Casino childcare operator appeals conviction
A CASINO childcare operator is appealing a conviction which found it had failed to report hazards that left children enrolled in the centre in harm's way to authorities.
Earlier this year, the operator of Rainbow Station Early Education Centre in Casino, LPN Childcare Pty Ltd ATF Liesl Pyke-Nott Family Trust, was found guilty of not protecting children from harm or hazard and failing to notify the regulatory authority about complaints raised.
Magistrate Brett Thomas in March found the childcare operator had failed to report certain incidents to the regulatory authority, including complaints made about broken Perspex in the playground, a parent's concern after they'd found a handprint on their child's back and the alleged lack of supervision by staff member, Anthony Purcell.
Mr Purcell is not facing any charges against him.
The childcare's director Liesl Pyke-Nott, 46, was also found guilty of giving false information in an interview, where she was questioned about the employment record of Mr Purcell, and two counts of liability when body corporate contravenes.
Barrister Adrian Williams, who represented both the operator and Pyke-Nott, told Lismore District Court on Wednesday the initial judgment that found his clients guilty had relied on testimony that had not been properly cross-examined by the prosecution.
Mr Williams said several witnesses during the March hearing had given evidence contradictory to the prosecution case.
He highlighted several examples, including nobody being able to clarify whether any play equipment had Perspex and whether the handprint complaint had ever been made clear to Pyke-Nott in the first place.
In his address to the court, Mr Williams cited the recent successful appeal of former Archbishop George Pell in Victoria, referring to the fact "contradiction" from witness testimony had led to the "fact finder" to have doubt of the final verdict.
"I'm talking in terms of the dynamics in (in the Pyke-Nott case) here the court was left with the contradictions of (one of the witnesses)," Mr Williams said.
However, Judge Jeffery McLennan disputed the Pell case had very little relevance to the childcare centre's appeal and urged Mr Williams to move on with his argument.
Mr Williams also said the judge should note Pyke-Nott's interview with the regulatory authorities that suggested she had given false information about the employment record of Mr Purcell was misinterpreted.
"They rely on the context of employment, not mere presence," he said.
"There was no statement he wasn't present.
"A conviction based on something that was not said, there're never was a representation Mr Purcell wasn't at the centre, the distinction was whether he was an employee."
Judge McLennan said he could see how in his ruling Magistrate Thomas "doesn't really articulate coherent reason" at times and "has misdirected himself" with certain evidence.
He added some of the evidence he found "unsatisfactory" but after looking at other evidence in the case he would also be "unlikely to come to a different conclusion" to Magistrate Thomas.
Judge McLennan will hand down his judgment on September 9.