Charge dropped against childcare worker over toddler death
A MANSLAUGHTER charge against a childcare worker after a toddler was found dead in a minibus has been dropped because she did not have duty of care for the child, a magistrate has found.
Dionne Batrice Grills, 34, appeared in Cairns Courthouse on Tuesday when Magistrate Kevin Priestly discharged her of the charge, saying she had no case to answer and that a reasonable jury would not find a guilty verdict based on the evidence.
Maliq (Meeky) Nicholas Floyd Namok-Malamoo, 3, was found dead inside the minibus belonging to the Edmonton Goodstart Early Learning centre on February 19.
Ms Grills and the centre director Michael Lewis, 45, were both charged with manslaughter as both were allegedly on the bus when he was collected as a late pick-up from his house and driven to the centre.
In his remarks, Magistrate Priestly said there was a possibility and probability that Ms Grills left the bus and the duty of care was then left to Mr Lewis.
"There is no evidential basis on which the prosecution might rely to exclude the possibility," Mr Priestly said.
He also said evidence showed that company policies and procedures also stated that the bus driver was responsible for supervision and transferring children from the bus to the centre.
"It was not a requirement for additional supervision and therefore the driver was the only supervisor required," he said.
"The statements which have been attributed to Mr Lewis and Ms Grills upon first hearing about what happened are entirely consistent with this scenario and sequence of events."
Outside court, Ms Grills spoke to the media and said she was relieved to be cleared but would "always carry the heartache of Malik's death for life".
"I extend my deepest condolences to Malik's family for their loss," she said.
During the three-day committal hearing for Ms Grills earlier this month, her lawyer Tony Kimmins had argued that she was not responsible and had no case.
Mr Kimmins said Mr Lewis was driving the bus and, according to the company's policies, responsible for the boy.
The prosecution had alleged both Mr Lewis and Ms Grills had a duty of care for Maliq.
Mr Lewis remains before the courts.
Originally published as Charge dropped against childcare worker over toddler death