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I no longer work in childcare, says boss who forgot boy (3)

THE woman in charge of a little boy when he was found wandering the streets of Dublin has said she is no longer working with children.

Creche owner Sarisha Kelly confirmed that she has given up professional childcare.

Kelly, of Washington Park, in Rathfarnham, had owned the Merrion Montessori and Nursery at Herbert Street when an outing for 17 children turned into a nightmare.

Thomas Doherty (3) was left behind by accident as the group went for an outing to St Stephen's Green on July 13, 2010.

He then let himself out of the creche and tried to catch up with the group.

But unable to find his group, he walked up Herbert Street, crossed busy Lower Baggot Street, then walked up by the canal to Wilton Place, before being found.

Meanwhile, frantic staff who had done a head-count at Baggot Street realised Thomas was missing and called gardai when he could not be traced. He had been missing for a half an hour before being located.

The HSE took a case against Sarisha Kelly, alleging she had failed to take all reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of pre-school children on the date of the incident, and that she failed to ensure operational procedures for the safe conduct of outings were in place.







Disgraceful

But Judge Anthony Halpin dismissed all charges against Kelly at Blanchardstown District Court, saying the behaviour of the HSE in the case was "nothing short of disgraceful".

He added that Kelly's employees were subjected to "Gestapo-like interrogation" by HSE inspectors.

He dismissed all summonses against her and awarded costs against the HSE.

Sarisha Kelly declined to comment on the matter when approached by the Herald, but she said she no longer has an involvement in the creche business.

But young Thomas's father Michael criticised the court decision.

"The issue here is what could have happened, protocols were clearly not in place," he told the Herald. He said he is filled with dread when he thinks of his child walking alone so close to the canal. "It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened," said Michael. He described how when Thomas found he was alone in the creche he used a chair to climb up and release the catch on the door.

CCTV showed his son coming out the basement door of the creche and running up steps, but the door then closed behind him.

Thomas then crossed busy city centre streets before being spotted close to the canal.

Mr Doherty said he was pleased his son seemed to have come through the experience unscathed and was now at school and doing well.

"He couldn't really explain where he went, or why, but he was only three years old and seemed not to know what the fuss was about. Thankfully he doesn't seem to have been too affected by it all. I would imagine he was anxious, but he was too young to say really," he added.

The HSE has declined to comment.

hnews@herald.ie


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