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'Little girl had so much headlice, her head was moving' - school principal tells court

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A lawyer for Daly had claimed there was no case to answer

A lawyer for Daly had claimed there was no case to answer

A lawyer for Daly had claimed there was no case to answer

A school principal became emotional as she gave a court a description of two neglected sisters who were pupils at her school.

One of the little girls had "so much head lice" it looked her head was moving, the principal said.

The district court granted full care orders for both girls until they turn 18.

The case features on the Child Care Law Reporting website which was published today. It was one of 26 cases reported - all parties remain anonymous.

Speaking at the court, the school principal said one of the sisters had head lice moving down her neck where a one inch scab could be seen. Bites were also evident on her back.

"It looked like her whole head was moving. It could see spider-like creatures moving; I could see hundreds of them moving down her neck," the principal said.

"She was very aware that she was not the way she should be, she was very embarrassed. I tried to reassure her."

The other sister's headlice was not as bad, the principal continued, and her older sister tended to look out for her although both were socially isolated.

The court heard the girls' mother had left the country and was not contactable.

Their father, who only became aware both his daughters were in care some two weeks before the hearing, consented to the full care order.

A medical addiction specialist told the court the mother's drug problem had never gone away and she had become progressively unstable.

The principal first became concerned about the sisters in October 2013.

The court heard them described as "unkempt, dirty, stressed, anxious and pale" with the children struggling to focus on schoolwork or engage in class.

The situation escalated quickly, the principal recalled.

When she first noticed the older sibling had head lice, she contacted the mother and advised her on how to treat them. However, the problem just worsened.

“She [child A] came up to the office, her hair was long, it looked like her whole head was moving, I could see spider-like creatures moving, I could see hundreds of them moving down her neck, she had an inch long scab, a raised scab at the back of her neck. That’s when I noticed there were bites on her back when I looked at her neck. She was very aware that she was not the way she should be, she was very embarrassed. I tried to reassure her."

Her younger sibling's head lice problem was "not as bad, I don’t know why. [Child A] was the mother for [B], she tended to look after her. That was the line in the sand for me,” said the principal.

The principal became emotional as she told the judge that classmates avoided sitting with child A - and she desperately tried to hide her problem.

“These huge head lice were crawling down off her onto the desk, you could see them, she was wiping them off hoping the other children couldn’t see them,” said the principal, in tears as she told the court.

Child A became very quiet, very stressed and anxious-looking, she was very pale like the weight of the world was on her shoulders.

Child B was also socially isolated, walking around on her own in the yard, she did not have any friends.

The principal told the court she then contacted social services, but got no response and so contacted the gardai who the visited the family home immediately.

She spoke with gardai after their visit, and they advised her the house was in appalling condition and there was no food.

At this point, both young girls were taken into care.

The principal said their carers were "very on board and clued in" and the head lice cleared up very quickly.

In the previous school year, both girls missed between 20 to 30 school days.

Since they moved in with the carers, they have missed four days of school.

They were well-fed and came to school with books and equipment, they began to live a very ordered supported life, it became very plain that they were very happy.

The school principal added that before the children went into care, Child A would walk towards her mother at going-home time with her head down, dragging her feet. Now she raced towards her foster father at going-home time, she nearly knocked down the principal one day in the process. She tells her foster father everything.

For her reception into care was “like day and night, [Child A] became a leader, she was the most popular girl in the class, by the time she left us she was so settled, working so well, so confident, she actually put on weight, she looked so well, she could be a child for the first time in her life, she didn’t looked stressed or worried,” said the principal.

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