Emily Martin, a young girl who was filmed trying to walk around while strapped into a chair and left to cry at nap time in RTE’s first undercover creche expose, has been awarded €35,000 in creche abuse compensation.
Taking the personal injury compensation action through her father Jonathan Martin, Emily sued Giraffe Childcare and the Health Service Executive. Judge Garrett Simons was informed that the girl, from Sandyford, was just 21 months old when the Prime Time documentary was broadcast in May 2013.
The court was told that Emily had attended the Giraffe creche at Belarmine Copse, Enniskerry Road, Stepaside, Dublin from when she was eight months old. Five months later she was move into the ‘wobbler room’. Her parents said they had chosen the creche in question by reading the promotional literature which championed ‘premium nature’ of the service available.
The Judge was told that, in 2013, an undercover RTE reporter began work at the creche as a childcare assistant, and covertly filmed the day-to-day practices for a time period of six weeks. When the footage was broadcast on May 28, 2013, it captured many of the children being mistreated or mishandled, causing significant trauma to them and the other children attending the creche.
Emily’s parents told the court that they were shocked and distressed when they saw RTE footage which showed her tied into a chair and attempting to walk with it strapped to her. There was also some footage of their daughter at nap time, lying on a mat on the floor, upset and crying and holding her toy horse.
In addition to this, the court was told that Emily was told to ‘go asleep’ over and over again, and that a creche worker threatened to take the toy from her. When the RTE worker tried to comfort Emily, she was told to ‘leave her cry’. He parents immediately withdrew her from the creche after seeing the footage.
They informed the court that Emily, after moving to the wobbler room, had started developing sleeping difficulties and would often become angry and shouted at them, behaviour she had no experience of at home. Once she left the creche this behaviour and her sleeping patterns improved.
A statement read out in Court said: “In or around May 2013, the said undercover investigation and the mistreatment it exposed was brought to the attention of the plaintiff’s [father] and mother. It is now apparent that during her time in the creche, the plaintiff had been exposed to an erratic, unpredictable and aggressive care environment, involving behaviour which was disrespectful, intimidating, emotionally and physically harmful and neglectful.”