Sunday 21 July 2019

Baby's arm broken as minder 'tried to calm her', court told

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Gordon Deegan

An 18-year-old childminder told gardaí she unintentionally broke the arm of her one-year-old niece when trying to frighten the baby in order to distract her from crying.

Detective Sergeant Claire O'Shaughnessy told Ennis Circuit Court yesterday the Latvian childminder and baby girl's aunt - now aged 20 - told gardaí in an interview she "twisted the baby's arm a little bit in the elbow area" to try to make her calm down.

The woman pleaded guilty to wilfully assaulting, ill-treating and neglecting her one-year-old niece in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child's health at an address in Ennis on May 21, 2018.

The childminder walked free from court yesterday after Judge Gerald Keys did not impose any sentence on her and instead imposed a conditional discharge because of the many mitigating factors in the case.

He ordered that the woman return to her native Latvia by November 30 and be of good behaviour and attend a course on anger management.

The DPP had recommended the case be heard in the district court but the district court judge transferred the case to the circuit court where more serious penalties apply after hearing an outline of the prosecution case against the accused.

In court yesterday, Judge Keys said: "This case shouldn't be in this court, full stop."

The accused was accompanied to court by her sister, the child's mother.

In court, Det Sgt O'Shaughnessy said the childminder's explanation for the arm break was: "I simply wanted to frighten her - just to distract her from crying."

In the minutes before the arm-break on May 21 last year - which was three days short of the baby girl's first birthday - the childminder said she had become frustrated with the baby as she was crying a lot.

She told gardaí she had endeavoured to stop the child crying.

The childminder did not realise she had broken the child's arm and she said the child cried more when this occurred and she couldn't calm her down after that.

Det Sgt O'Shaughnessy said the childminder said she didn't apply much force and she didn't expect the arm to break.

The woman had come to Ireland the previous October to look after her sister's three children aged seven, two-and-a-half and 12 months.

The seven-year-old has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Det Sgt O'Shaughnessy agreed the childminder was in a stressful situation and was unable to cope with looking after the children when she broke the baby's arm.

There was an older woman in the house at the time and she alerted the parents over the child's upset.

On arriving home, the girl's father noticed the baby's arm was sore to touch and they brought the baby to Shannondoc.

Shannondoc didn't diagnose the arm break at that time and advised the parents to bring the baby to hospital if the pain didn't subside.

The baby was then brought to University Hospital Limerick the following day and medics notified gardaí because they believed the arm break was unusual as the child was not yet walking.

Counsel for the childminder, Rebecca Treacy BL, said her client has expressed her remorse and embarrassment and has conveyed her apologies to her family.

Irish Independent

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