The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 Jan-May

The Press
February 5 1993.

Creche absence 'unlikely'

The Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre could not have operated if the women workers facing indecency charges had attended an alleged incident away from the creche, a former creche worker told the Christchurch District Court yesterday.

Ms Paula Scott said the staff-children ratios at the creche meant it could not have carried on if the defendants had attended an alleged circle incident where children were kicked, burnt, and indecently assaulted at a Hereford Street house.

The allegation made against the women defendants. Peter Ellis, and also herself and other creche workers was ridiculous and a "little weird", she said.

Ms Scott and another former creche worker, Ms Stephanie Hauiti, gave evidence yesterday during a preliminary hearing to decide whether five former creche workers accused of sexually abusing some children in their care will be sent for trial.

Ellis, aged 34, faces 45 indecency charges. Gaye Jocelyn Davidson, aged 39, Janice Virginia Buckingham, aged 44, and Marie Keys, aged 43, each face four charges. Deborah Janet Gillespie faces three charges.
Both witnesses denied any participation in the circle incident. They said they had been subpoenaed by the police to appear as prosecution witnesses.

Ms Hauiti and Ms Scott said staff at the creche would always know about walks away from the creche and which children had been taken because of the preparation involved. Only two or three people would have been left at the creche if the defendants had attended the circle incident, Ms Hauiti said.

Both strongly doubted that Ellis and Gillespie could have been naked in the toilet area at one end of the creche while two children watched because of the openness of the area and the number of people going through.

Neither witness had seen any signs of distress when children had returned from walks.
Ms Hauiti said children always seemed happy and chatty as they returned. Children would have been too traumatised to cover up signs of having experienced the abuse alleged.

Ms Scott said she had, in a desperate effort to help the police, told them about an incident when she had observed Ellis outside the children's toilet adjusting his fly. She had first thought Ellis had used the children’s toilet but then she had seen a child in the cubicle who seemed quite happy and realised he was probably toileting the child.

To a question from Mr Robert Harrison, counsel for Ellis, Ms Hauiti said Ellis had told them about his sexual activities but they had regarded the stories as exaggerated and designed to shock.
Cross-examined by Mr Brent Stanaway, for the Crown. Ms Hauiti agreed some children did not like Ellis and would show their attitude in subtle ways. She had put it down to his manner which she regarded as more authoritarian than the women workers.

In cross-examination by Mr Chris Lange, Ms Scott agreed she had last year told police she had seen Ellis "quickly do up his fly" and in another version that Ellis "had caught her eye, quickly looked away and did up his fly". Ellis had been facing the child who was standing, she said.

The two witnesses concluded evidence called by Mr Gerald Nation for the women defendants. Judge Anderson adjourned the hearing until Tuesday when he will hear final submissions from counsel.