Boy awarded €25,000 after 'Prime Time' crèche exposé
A toddler exposed to an aggressive care environment in a crèche, which featured on RTÉ's 'Prime Time' programme, was awarded €25,000 damages for abuse and mistreatment.
The award was made by Judge Terence O'Sullivan in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday.
He said that while the settlement offer by the Links Crèche, Abington Woods, Swords Road, Malahide, Co Dublin, may not be top value for the case, it would be foolish of the court not to approve it.
Judge O'Sullivan heard little Max Cottrell attended the crèche while he was aged between one and four years old.
His parents took him away from the crèche after they had seen on the RTÉ programme how children had been exposed to unpredictable and aggressive care practices.
The exposé 'Breach of Trust' was broadcast in May 2013 and prompted a wave of reaction nationwide.
Barrister Siun Leonowicz, for Max's mother Jennifer Breslin, told the court that the crèche was one of three selected by RTE's 'Prime Time' for an undercover investigation into the standard of care provided by pre-school services in the State.
Ms Leonowicz said an undercover news reporter, who had got a job at the crèche, witnessed staff handling children in an extremely rough and aggressive manner and shouting at them.
As a result, the reporter had handed in her notice, complained to management about care of children in the "wobbler" room and made a report to the HSE.
Judge O'Sullivan was told that two years later the crèche was fined €1,000 on a single charge, with seven others taken into account. Max Cottrell, who is now aged eight, sued the crèche through his mother Jennifer. The family live at Waterside Crescent, Swords Road, Malahide.
Ms Leonowicz said that after Max was withdrawn from the crèche, it was found he was rejecting his mother and, following behavioural difficulties, would not take manner correction well He had attended a child specialist on several occasions for therapy. A number of other cases had been dealt with in the Circuit Civil court and 22 in all settled in High Court proceedings.
Recommending the court's approval of the €25,000 offer, Ms Leonowicz said she was aware of a similar case that had settled for €18,000. Judge O'Sullivan approved the €25,000 offer.