Care worker at Dar Fra Diego accused of causing slight injuries to two children – one had blood in his urine

A care worker from the Dar Fra Diego children’s home in Hamrun has been arraigned in Court on charges of causing slight injuries to children who live at the home following a care order. She pleaded not guilty.

Appearing in front of Magistrate Josette Demicoli, the official prosecutor, inspector  Robert Vella testified that on 18 September of last year, a woman had gone to the Hamrun police station to report that one of her children had phoned her from Dar Fra Diegu, to tell her that a care worker had hit them after one of the children had thrown a soft toy at her. This phone call was made after they had taken a carer’s mobile without her permission.

The  mother said that afterwards she had phoned back on the same number and the carer had answered and told her it was not true that the accused had hit the children by pushing one of them and by twisting the arm of the other child.

The inspector added that when the police spoke to the carer, she said that on that day the children were being very naughty because the accused did not want them to stay together even though they were siblings. The inspector explained that the police had ordered the carer to take the children to the clinic to be examined.

It resulted that one of the children had blood in his urine and the doctor at the clinic ordered the children to be taken to the hospital for further tests, where it was confirmed that they had slight injuries. The inspector said that the police took down the version of the accused and the other carer. He said that the carer confirmed what the mother had said, and the accused had given a long statement in which she denied all charges brought against her.

The inspector explained that after the charges were brought against the accused, several legal letters passed back and forth between the respective parties. It was at this point that the inspector asked for the advice of the Attorney General who advised him to continue with the case.

During the cross examination, when he was asked if he knew about the internal inquiry which took place at Dar Fra Diegu and which had concluded that no disciplinary measures should be taken agains the accused, the inspector replied that he learned about this through the legal letters between the parties involved and that was why he had asked for advice from the Attorney General.

The carer who was present during the alleged incident also testified. She said that on that day, the children were objecting because the accused wanted to separate them, and kept telling her they were siblings and wanted to stay together. She said that the incident escalated quickly and one of the children began insulting the accused, using vulgar language.

She testified that at that point the accused dared the boy to try and touch her and the boy threw a soft toy at her and started running towards her. She said that at that point the accused pushed the boy and he fell on the TV set. She said that afterwards she grabbed the girl and twisted her arm to stop her behaviour. She said that the children immediately began complaining that they had been hurt.

The witness added that later, the police were involved, and they ordered her to take the children to the clinic, which she did. The witness also said that on that day the children were being very naughty and it was difficult to control them.   The Court learned that after this incident she was suspended and afterwards learned that from being employed full-time, she was demoted to part-time work. She also discovered that after this incident, the accused was given a promotion to Senior Carer.

During the cross exam, the witness was asked about warnings she had received about photos of herself wearing a bikini which she had shown the children. She denied this ever happened. The case will continue on 29 April.