Six-year-old girl receives compensation in creche abuse case

A Circuit Civil Court judge has approved compensation offered by a creche to a six-year-old girl who had suffered psychological abuse at the facility.

In 2012, the girl was enrolled in the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre in Stepaside, County Dublin. As she was old enough, she began to attend her creche´s “Toddler´s Room”. After the transfer, her parents noticed that she started showing signs of anxiety as they prepared her to attend each morning. They claimed that she would cry “No creche! No creche!” as she was being dropped off. When her parents picked her up in the evening, was often withdrawn and lethargic. She also began to experience difficulty sleeping at night.

The girl´s parents were extremely concerned by their daughter’s sudden change in behaviour. They made an appointment to express their concerns with her primary carer at the creche. They discussed the signs of anxiety and disturbed sleep, but were told by the carer that she was receiving an appropriate level of supervision offered by the creche. In spite of the reassurances, they were still concerned about their daughter’s behaviour.

Shortly after visiting the creche, the RTE documentary “A Breach of Trust”, was released. After they witnessed their daughter´s carer being abusive to children in the same facility, the parents removed the child from the creche. They immediately sought legal counsel.

On behalf of their daughter, a creche abuse claim was subsequently made against the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre on the grounds that the girl had suffered emotional injuries due to the abuse. The creche denied liability, but still made an offer of compensation amounting to €15,000 in spite of no admission of liability. As the creche abuse claim had been made on behalf of a child, it first had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was fair and in the child´s best interest.

In July 2015, the case was heard by to Judge James O´Donohue at the Circuit Civil Court. The judge heard the circumstances behind the creche abuse claim, and the affect it had on the young girl. Judge O´Donohue ruled that the proposed settlement of the crèche abuse claim was insufficient for the level of injury it was claimed the girl had suffered. He refused to approve the settlement made by the creche.

Following a period of renegotiation, a further offer of settlement was made to the girl. This time, the approval hearing was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The circumstances of the girl´s alleged emotional injuries were once again related to the court. Judge Groarke enquired whether the girl had suffered lasting psychological damage and, after assurance that she had not, he approved the larger unknown settlement of the claim.