Court finds preschool failed to protect children from harm after toddler’s death

Court finds preschool failed to protect children from harm after toddler’s death
Court finds preschool failed to protect children from harm after toddler’s death

The grieving parents of 16-month-old girl Arianna Maragol, who died after being found unconscious at a Sydney daycare centre, told 7.30am their daughter’s death was “an impending tragedy”.

Key points:

  • The daycare and its owner were fined more than $140,000, combined, for inadequate care at the daycare
  • Arianna’s father Jozef Maragol says ‘early childhood regulations need to be reformed’
  • A court heard that Arianna was not physically checked in bed by childcare staff for three hours

A court found Berry Patch Preschool in Kellyville Ridge and its owner, Helen Jacobs, guilty of 13 counts, including failing to properly supervise children and failing to protect them.

These charges were unrelated to responsibility for Arianna’s death. The cause of his death remains unknown and will be explored at an upcoming coroner’s inquest.

The daycare center and its owner were fined more than $140,000, combined.

“Early childhood regulations need to be reformed,” said Arianna’s father, Jozef Maragol.

“How can someone die and the penalties are monetary penalties?

“The truth has come out. It is very important to know that the system has recognized this error, this negligence.”

Baby was not checked for three hours

Arianna’s parents, Jozef Maragol and Anet Eyvazians, are pushing for stricter regulation of the sector.(ABC News: Tom Hancock)

The court heard daycare staff did not physically check on Arianna for three hours as she lay in bed, before she was found unconscious on August 24, 2018.

A log of CCTV footage submitted to the court shows staff put Arianna down for a nap and placed a blanket on her at 9.02am, but no checks took place until 12.06pm.

At the time, the nursery school policy was to carry out checks every 10 minutes, but that could simply mean monitoring the children using CCTV footage.

Arianna was taken to Westmead Children’s Hospital, where she later died.

“This nightmare that I dream about every night – that I found Arianna, lifeless, in the hospital,” said Arianna’s mother, Anet Eyvazians.

Mr Maragol and Ms Eyvazians said the Berry Patch Center never contacted them after their daughter died.

During the court proceedings, Magistrate David Price also criticized the NSW Department of Education’s knowledge of the use of CCTV to monitor children in nursery school.

Berry Patch Preschool Kellyville Ridge and its owner, Ms. Jacobs, did not respond to questions from ABC 7.30.

“I just want to be with my family, but my family is no longer complete,” Mr Maragol said.

“They just destroyed us. There is no way to explain in words what they did to us.”

CCTV surveillance is no longer adequate

“[Arianna] lived such a short life on this Earth,” says Anet Eyvazians.(ABC News: Tom Hancock)

A spokesperson for the New South Wales Department of Education said that since the incident the regulator had “revised the guidelines and [advised] the use of CCTV, audio monitors or heart rate monitors instead of physical checks is not considered adequate monitoring”.

The spokesperson added that all service providers are required to have policies based on best practices that align with regulations.

Arianna’s family seeks more answers at an upcoming coroner’s inquest.

In the meantime, Arianna’s parents continue to push for stricter regulation in the industry.

“She lived such a short life on this Earth,” Ms Eyvazians said.

“I hope she’s so proud of us, that we can make changes and be her voice.

“To save other children and not let any other family – no mom or dad – go through this nightmare.”

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