The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 Jan-May

The Press
May 8, 1993

Boy tells of visit to house

A number of childcare workers besides the man standing trial for sexually abusing children at the Christchurch Civic creche had participated in abuse, a child complainant has told the High Court.

In a videotaped interview recorded last year, and in questioning yesterday, the now seven-year-old boy said five women workers at the crèche and another male worker had committed indecencies on children.

Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, aged 35, denies 25 charges of sexual abuse against children at the creche. Three women - Mrs Marie Keys, Ms Jan Buckingham, and Ms Gaye Davidson - were charged in October last year on the basis of the interview played to the court yesterday. They have since been discharged in pre-trial hearings.

The interview in which allegations were made against the three women was the fourth time the boy had been interviewed by specialists and was done on August 6 last year. His second interview, recorded on August 4, was played to the court on Thursday.

The boy began by telling the interviewer about an incident where children had been made to stand naked in a circle drawn on the floor at Ellis's house. "Andrew and Rob" were at the two-storey house in Hereford Street. So were "Gaye, Marie and Jan", he said.

Adults stood outside the circle with some of them playing guitars and Marie and Gaye pretended to "sex" to make the children laugh. The children were made to kick each other and "Peter took photographs".

The slit-eyed people playing the guitars had knives that they thought were magic, wore white suits, and pretended to be cowboys. They played a tune like "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and said, "Do it or we'll stab you with these."

The children were kicked in the "balls and kneecaps". Afterwards the people had put them in ovens and "pretended to eat us". "If you tell we'll put you in the oven and kill you," the people had said.

When he was in the circle, Andrew had put a needle up his penis and Ellis had held him so he could not run away. Jan, Marie, and Gaye had hurt penises and vaginas too, the boy said.

Asked why he had not told about the house the previous day when interviewed, the boy said he had not remembered. His mother had taken him to Hereford Street and he had shown her where the house was.

Ellis and the women workers seemed to be "good" when they were not in the toilets, but in the toilets they said "nasty things" and did things "like I told you today".

The boy said that on the upper- storey of another building Ellis had put his penis in his mouth. In the circle, needles had been "put up" other children, and boys and girls had to commit indecencies on each other, but he had not been made to, he said.

In cross-examination by Mr Robert Harrison for Ellis, the boy said he had remembered about the circle after the third interview. He had been too scared to tell earlier, he said.

His mother and father had asked him questions on his request after the second interview. His mother would ask quite often, and before the first interview in August she had taken him to Hereford Street.

He said he was taken away from the creche about twice a week by "Peter, Marie, and Gaye" and "Peter, Jan, and Marie", he said. Bad things had happened like "sticks up bum" and "burning paper". The women and Ellis were lying if they said the incidents that he had outlined in the interview did not happen, he said.

He could remember the women and Ellis putting him a cage at the back of the creche and he was left there for about half-an-hour.

His mother had taken him past an address in Armagh Street and past the Masonic Lodge. Bad things had happened at the Masonic Lodge, he said.

He had been interviewed in August on consecutive days and would have told the interviewer about being taken to a graveyard and being buried in coffins had he attended another interview, he said. Other bad teachers were Stephanie and Paula, he said.

To Mr Stanaway, he said the paper had been held against his bottom for five minutes and had made it bleed. The graveyard incident was "real".

Ellis faces a charge of doing an indecent act based on the August 6 interview.

The boy's mother said her son became reluctant to attend the crèche around May 1989 and became withdrawn at times. She had known nothing of the specific allegations made by her son before his disclosures and her discussions with him.

After his first interview in May, his behaviour deteriorated markedly and he also developed anxieties. The behaviour and anxieties improved as the disclosures continued, she said.

In cross-examination, she agreed her son's quiet times occurred during a period of shared custody. Her son said he wanted to stay home from the creche because of his long day there.

Before the first interview she had asked her son if Ellis had touched his penis or bottom. Between March and the first interview, she had asked him if he had anything to say about the creche probably about once a week. Between May and August she increased the questions to twice a week.

She had asked him direct questions but not leading questions and had attended a parent's support meeting in July where she had met the parents of three of the other complainants.

She could not recall whether she had taken her son to Ellis's Hereford Street address on the morning before his first August interview and would not agree she had received the information on August 3. She had been told by another parent.

She had rung another parent to tell her that her child had been mentioned by her son in his disclosures, but she could not say when.

The trial will begin its third week on Monday. Four more complainants have yet to give evidence.