A four-year-old girl, who allegedly suffered psychological injuries while attending a creche mentioned in an RTÉ expose on the mistreatment of children, has been offered a settlement of €15,000, a court has heard.
However, Judge James O’Donohue in the Circuit Civil Court said the damages offer was not enough and rejected it which means the claim by Emilie Kiely will now go to a full trial before another judge.
The court heard that Emilie, during a five-months period when she attended Giraffe Childcare, at Belarmine Copse, Stepaside, Enniskerry Road, Co Dublin, allegedly “suffered stress, emotional upset and terror”.
The creche had denied liability in a full defence to the child’s claim but, Judge O’Donohue was told, had made the “without admission of liability” settlement offer.
Emile, who first attended the creche when she was eight-months-old, had left after the airing of the RTÉ programme, Prime Time Investigates, which exposed the treatment of children at a number of creches.
Barrister Michael Connellan said Emilie had attended the creche on a daily basis and had been moved to the ‘toddlers room’ in September 2012 until the end of January 2013.
The court heard in her claim that during those five months, Emilie's parents, John and Caroline Kiely, of Sandyford Downs, Sandyford, Dublin, noticed changes in her behaviour.
‘No creche, no creche’
Emilie had been anxious and stressed when she was being dropped at the creche during the week or when passing in front of it during the week-end, and would say “no creche, no creche.”
The judge heard that Emile was allegedly often withdrawn, red faced and tired when she was collected from the creche in the evening, and would sometimes fall asleep in the car. Her sleep had been disturbed.
The Kielys had allegedly discussed their daughter’s issue with the relevant minder at the creche, who assured them Emilie had been receiving the appropriate level of care.
Judge O’Donohue heard Emilie’s behaviour improved in February 2013 when she was moved to another room because of her age and intended natural progression.
Emilie’s parents John and Caroline, according to documents opened to the court, revealed the Kiely family had been in shock when they had watched the TV programme as it allegedly showed the minder they had spoken to behaving angrily and screaming at children.
The court was told that a psychologist’s report established that Emilie had been exposed to a harsh childcare regime while she attended the toddlers room where the regime was described as “socially, emotionally and behaviourally inappropriate”.
Emilie, through her father John, sued Giraffe Childcare, with a registered office at Adamstown Avenue, Castlegate, Adamstown, Lucan, Co Dublin. Her parents have also sued the creche in separate proceedings.
The court heard the creche had made a €15,000 settlement offer. Mr Connellan said that although liability was in issue in the case, he was confident Emilie would win her claim if it went to a full hearing.
Judge O’Donohue refused the offer and the matter was adjourned for a full hearing at a date to be fixed by the Circuit Court office.