Tuesday 21 November 2017

Brothers who attended creche featured in Primetime expose awarded €48,000 in damages

The Giraffe creche in Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin
The Giraffe creche in Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin

Saurya Cherfi

Two brothers, who attended a creche identified in an RTE expose about the mistreatment of children, have been awarded a total of €48,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

The court Tuesday heard that the settlement offers had been made by Giraffe Childcare without admission of liability.

Barrister Gareth Kinsella told the court that Jamie Doyle (8) attended the Belarmine Giraffe Creche in Stepaside, Dublin, from July 2009 to May 2013 and his brother Mark (5) attended it from 2012 to 2013.

Mr Kinsella said the two boys had been removed from the creche following an advanced viewing by their parents of the Prime Time documentary which was broadcast on May 28, 2013.

The brothers, who sued the creche through their mother Pauline Doyle, of The Hill, Stoneen, Kilfane, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, alleged in separate claims that ongoing deficiencies in care at the creche had created an “anxiety provoking environment” during the time they spent there as day-care users.

Mr Kinsella, who appeared with Mullaney Walsh Solicitors for the boys, said that Giraffe Childcare, with a registered address at Adamstown Avenue, Castlegate, Adamstown, Co Dublin, had entered full defences to both claims.

Counsel said the video footage showed Mark in the documentary.  The court heard that Mark, who was under two years old at the time, could be seen being shouted at in an intimidating and distressing manner by staff.

Mr Kinsella said Mark had also been falsely imprisoned when he was restrained in a chair in his outdoor clothes for an hour.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard that Mark could be seen becoming anxious when another child was fed in a forcible manner and vomited.

The boy’s mother, on Mark’s behalf, alleged in legal documents that staff at the creche aggressively instructed him to lie down and threatened to remove a comfort toy from him if he refused to comply.

The court heard the traumatic events had affected his sense of safety and security.  He had been upset and distressed but had made a full recovery. The court heard he had no current emotional behaviour.

Kinsella said that Jamie was not in the documentary but had attended the creche for almost four years.  He had suffered traumatic stress, fatigue, irritability and had a poor appetite. 

In proceedings on behalf of Jamie it was claimed he had been left in a cold room with windows opened, only dressed in a nappy after he had just recovered from a sickness.  He had suffered psychological stress but seemed to have recovered fully.

It was claimed the creche had failed to provide the boys with a safe environment and had failed to ensure that staff had been adequately supervised.  It was alleged they had been fed with poor quality food and that there had been hygiene deficiencies at the creche as potties were being washed in the same hand basin used during nappy changes.

Counsel said the defendant had made settlement offers of €30,000 in Mark’s case and €18,000 in Jamie’s case and he was happy to recommend both offers.  Judge Groarke approved them.

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