Daycare staff on manslaughter charges leave watch-house
THE allegedly "fraudulent" use of a daycare sign-in system and staff negligence has been blamed for why a three-year-old boy was left to die on a minibus.
The traumatic triple-0 telephone call made by Goodstart Early Learning Edmonton centre director Michael Glenn Lewis, 45, after finding the boy's body was read out in court where he was granted bail.
Police prosecutor Sen-Sgt Maynard Marcum told Cairns Magistrates Court their case was "strong" and "serious" with police alleging the boy was incorrectly signed in on the centre's computer system more than an hour before he was even collected from home.
He said Bentley Park man Mr Lewis and staff member Dionne Batrice Grills, 34, from Manunda, who are both charged with manslaughter, also allegedly failed to sign the boy in manually when he was collected on the bus about 9am.
The court heard it was alleged they had forgotten to collect him on their first bus run and it was only after the boy's mother called, they returned to pick him up, then drove about 5km to the centre and left him on board, despite him being the only passenger.
Sen-Sgt Marcum said Mr Lewis allegedly then drove the bus to a meeting at Bayview Heights for several hours, before finding his body in a seat two rows behind the driver when departing for the afternoon trip from outside Hambledon State School.
He read out what Mr Lewis said on the call to emergency services at 3.16pm last Tuesday.
"Oh my god, this kid is dead," he read from the transcript.
"Oh my god I'm the director of the childcare centre. The child was left on the bus all day.
"I've just opened up the bus and he's here dead.
"I'm so sorry buddy.
"Oh my god I'm going to jail, this is my fault.
"Oh my god my whole life is over."
Sen-Sgt Marcum said police have alleged the computer sign in was a fraudulent procedure as it was performed because the family had used up too many absentee days for their child care subsidy.
He said while this was done to "protect the family", the centre also received a benefit linked to attendance numbers.
The court heard Mr Lewis was born in Canada but has been living in Australia for almost 20 years and is a married father-of-three.
Magistrate Jacqui Payne granted bail on the condition he have no contact with Ms Grills, daycare staff and witness, surrender his passport and not go near international departure points.
She said he had given "extraordinary co-operation" to police and did not need to be in custody for his own protection.
Ms Grills was granted bail on the condition she have no contact with the centre's staff and witnesses.
Police prosecutor Sen-Sgt Maynard Marcum told the court Ms Grills had only worked at the centre for a month.
He said her charge was "not as egregious" as her co-accused.
The pair have both been stood aside by Goodstart.
Magistrate Jacqui Payne asked whether the charges came under new legislation, introduced in Queensland last year for reckless indifference to human life, but Sen-Sgt Marcum said it was just "straight manslaughter".
Both cases were adjourned until March 18.