Trial hears childminder told gardaí 'I never caused any injuries' to 10-month-old baby

A childminder on trial accused of causing serious harm to a 10-month-old baby told gardaí that the child was not “violently shaken” or assaulted while in her care.

The 36-year-old told gardaí during her interview that she drove the child to hospital after the infant suffered a seizure at her home. She said she had cared for the baby like her own children.

She has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby at her home on March 28, 2012.

Detective Garda Linda Harkin told Alice Fawsitt SC, prosecuting, that she was made aware on March 30, 2012 that there was a suspicion of non-accidental injury to a baby and she attended at Cavan General Hospital to speak with the consultant paediatrician, Dr Alan Finan.

She said Dr Finan told her that the child had come into the hospital in the care of the childminder who had given an account of the child having a seizure prior to her arrival.

The doctor told Det Gda Harkin that the child had unusual bruising to her head, face and buttocks. He said there was evidence of a subdural haematoma and two healing rib fractures, estimated to be four weeks old. He said there was a bilateral haemorrhage behind her eye.

The child was no longer at the hospital at this time, having been transferred to Temple Street.

Det Gda Harkin said she later got a report from Dr Finan and on April 13, 2012, attended at the childminder's home where she was arrested and taken to a garda station for interview.

The court heard that the childminder told gardaí that she had been minding the child since June 2011, when she was six weeks old. She said that the child was “treated like one of our own” and she had a good relationship with the child's mother.

She said there had been incidents of the child falling in her home. She agreed with gardaí that she had completed “incident reports” for two earlier events only after the child was hospitalised.

During the garda interview the childminder denied making certain additional entries to a child minding notebook. She agreed she had failed in her duty to keep some records but denied she was trying to “cover-up”.

During cross examination by Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, Det Gda Harkin agreed that the childminder had been fully co-operative and made no attempt to avoid questions.

She agreed that analysis of the child minding notebook by the garda handwriting section did not support allegations by the child's mother that certain entries related to issues such as bumps, bruises or vomiting had been put in after the fact.

The childminder told gardaí that the child had been unwell in the weeks prior to the incident and had been on antibiotics. She said the child was quiet when her mother dropped her off.

She said the baby had two naps during the day and her cheeks were “flushed” when she was woken after the second nap. She said the child went “very quiet” and was sitting still like she was in a “trance.”

The childminder said the infant fell forward, onto her side and then stomach. She said her whole body was jerking all over the floor before she started to vomit.

She told gardaí that after the seizure stopped, the child started choking and gasping. She said her body was limp and cold. The child vomited again in the car on the way to the hospital.

She told gardaí that the child had falls in her home but she had never assaulted her.

After gardaí read over the child's injuries to her, the childminder told them: “I never caused any injuries of any kind.” She denied suggestions of “violently shaking” or assaulting the child.

She told gardaí she was shocked at the allegations and when asked how she felt about the child's injuries she replied “disgust and shock.”

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of six men and six women. There is a court order prohibiting publication of anything that would identify the child.

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