The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 Jan-May

The Press
May 6 1993

Charge dropped in crèche case

The High Court yesterday discharged a childcare worker on one of 28 charges of sexual abuse after a four-year-old complainant told the court an alleged incident did not happen.

The complainant, the seventh to give evidence at the trial, made the statement after watching a videotaped interview conducted with her by a specialist interviewer in July last year when she was aged three.

In the interview, the complainant said [  missing text  ], Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, [  missing text  ] had urinated on her at the Christchurch Civic Crèche. Ellis faced a charge of doing an indecent act in relation to the girl.

When Mr Brent Stanaway for the Crown asked her if her statement about Ellis "doing wees" on her was true she replied that it was wrong. Questioned further she said nothing had happened and her disclosure to the interviewer was "wrong thing". She had not told the interviewer about the incident.

In discharging Ellis on the charge, Mr Justice Williamson said it was more correct to say that the complainant had not been capable of giving evidence in court than that her evidence was wrong.

In her interview with the specialist interviewer, the girl first said Ellis was a good and silly man who would tickle the children. She said she could not remember any bad things about him.

The interviewer then showed the girl a doll and together they talked about where "poos and wees" came out. The child identified a penis on a doll and talked about a boy at the crèche who had "his penis out".

The interviewer then asked her if she had seen any "big men" stick their penises out and she replied that she had seen Ellis's. She said he had said naughty words and had been told off by Tracey.

When he had showed her his penis she had become angry and smacked him. Asked where she had smacked him she said on his bottom.

She was then shown more dolls, which the interviewer told her represented her and Ellis. Questioned further with the dolls the complainant said Ellis's clothes were up when he stuck out his penis. First she said Ellis had taken her knickers down then that he had not.

He had "weed" on "all the children" and she had told him off. He had "weed" on her and another child's tummy.

The girl's older sister began her evidence yesterday. The Crown relies on the third of five interviews with her to support two charges of indecent assault against Ellis.

At the request of defence counsel, Mr Robert Harrison, excerpts of the first two interviews were played first. In these the complainant, now aged seven, said a lady, not a man, had hurt children at the crèche.

Ellis had made her feel bad at the crèche because he had not painted her face. He had also punched her, hit her, pulled her head, and stood on her foot. She had never seen Ellis hurt anybody else and no-one had hurt her vagina or bottom.

In the third interview she said Ellis had kicked her in the eye, punched her in the face, and hurt other parts of the body indicated by her pointing at various parts of a doll.

Things that were too hard to talk about included Ellis standing on her foot and another child being hurt on the back.

Asked where he had hurt her by reference to a doll she said Ellis had poked her in the tummy with a stick. "People still had their clothes on" and the stick had gone into a boy's knee and into her bottom.

A previous witness, the mother of the sixth complainant who gave evidence on Tuesday, said her son had attended three different crèches full-time. Behavioural problems had been experienced at the Hagley crèche.

During her son's early years she and her husband had told him about bad touching and that "he could always tell".

She had not discussed the Civic crèche with her son after November 1991 although he had talked about it. Police notes dated April 30 that said her son was starting to talk to her about Ellis were about the November discussions, she said.

A meeting of crèche parents had been held at her house in late July, early August, because her son had been talking about places other than the crèche. She identified the parents of two complainants in the trial who have yet to give evidence.

She said she had had no contact with other crèche parents before her son's evidential interview.