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Prosecution relies on RTÉ footage in Hyde and Seek crèche trial, judge told

A trial is expected to begin next February.

Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

THE PROSECUTION OF the Hyde & Seek crèche chain and two directors for breaking child care laws relies on footage broadcast in an RTÉ Investigates programme, a court has heard.

The Dublin crèche company and directors Siobhan and Anne Davy have been accused of regulatory offences under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016.

That legislation sets out the standards of health, safety and welfare that must be in place before pre-school childcare services can be provided.

If convicted they could face fines of up to €120,000, their solicitor Michael Staines told Dublin District Court today.

The trial is to commence on 10 February, Judge Anthony Halpin ordered.

A week has been set aside but more time will be made available if necessary.

The defendants were excused from having to attend tomorrow. Prosecution counsel Aoife McNickle told Judge Halpin “quite an amount” of disclosure had been provided to the defence. No statements were taken because it was not the practice to provide them in a regulatory breach case.

The prosecution’s case was based on inspectors’ reports and RTÉ footage, she said.

Defence solicitor Michael Staines said he had been provided with 3,000 pages of evidence and he has been told there will be 10 or 11 State witnesses.

Most were Tusla employees.

Mr Staines said there was 120 hours of footage.

He asked Judge Halpin to order Tusla to request statements from RTÉ. Evidence will come from two undercover people sent into his clients’ facility and their evidence will be crucial, Mr Staines said.

He wanted an opportunity to see what they will say, which was, he argued, a constitutional right.

Judge Halpin said he could not order Tusla to take statements but it appeared to be the case that there were reports from childcare experts. Nor could he make an order asking the prosecution to place any compulsion on RTÉ to give statements, he held.

However, he assured the solicitor his clients would not be prejudiced and if any difficulty arose during the trial the defence will be given time to take instructions.

He also noted the prosecution relies on the RTÉ footage which had been aired.

Some 120 hours of footage had been distilled to 20 or 21 minutes of the footage which was broadcast, the court heard.

For the prosecution, counsel said seven hours of footage had been isolated and clips lasting 40 minutes had been identified, and will be played.

The prosecution would provide a summary of the RTÉ witnesses’ evidence to the defence, said counsel.

Mr Staines said it was possible the trial could run for three weeks and the defence could call three or four people to give evidence.

The case will be listed for mention at the end of January to confirm the hearing dates.

Siobhan Davy was accused that, being a director of Hyde and Seek Glasnevin Ltd, on April 11, May 23 and July 27 last, at the premises on Finglas Road, Dublin, she permitted two staff members to work directly with children while not in possession of documentary evidence confirming they held minimal educational awards.

She faced a summons for permitting staff to wake a child by holding a wet cloth their face on July 10 last.

She was also accused of allowing one staff member to supervise nine babies in contravention of safety ratios on July 8 last.

The company itself was accused of not having documentary evidence of staff having a major award qualification in early childcare, on dates between April and July. It is also accused of permitting the use of a wet cloth to wake a child.

Owner and director Anne Davy was accused of allowing eight staff members work at Hyde and Seek Creche and Montessori without appropriate Garda vetting on July 19 last; and providing inadequate space with 46 children present on September 11, and 37 children present on July 19 last, when only 32 were sanctioned at the creche.

Comments are off as legal proceedings are ongoing.

About the author:

Tom Tuite

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