Huge fine after child locked in bus for 90 minutes
It is sheer luck that a three-year-old left locked in a bus by a southeast Queensland childcare centre, for more than an hour did not sustain any serious injuries, a court has heard.
Andrew Parker, managing director of Guppys Elc Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty in Caboolture Magistrates Court, on March 23, to one count of failing to ensure a child was adequately supervised and failing to ensure every reasonable precaution was taken to protect the child from hazard.
The court heard that on November 12, 2019, a three-year-old, collected by the service at about 9.40am, was left on a bus at the operator's Caboolture centre, at Jubilee St, for an hour-and-a-half.
A Department of Education prosecutor told the court said it was just sheer luck the child was found uninjured.
"The child was in the bus which was parked for an hour and a half prior to being found by another adult walking into the facility," the prosecution told the court.
"It was parked undercover but it would have been stressful."
The child was taken to hospital but did not sustain any physical injuries from the incident.
"It was really down to good luck rather than good management that the child was found," the prosecutor said.
The court heard it was an informant at Caboolture Hospital who called police about the incident.
The prosecution said the seriousness of the incident cannot be ignored.
"This is something that came up recently in Cairns where a young child passed away in the same circumstances, the child was left for much longer but these are the consequences these mistakes can have," she said.
The defendant's lawyer Mr Forrest said his client acknowledged the seriousness of the incident.
"The management staff and the board were mortified and it is indeed fortunate that the child was not hurt, it could have been otherwise and this is acknowledged and accepted by the defendant," Mr Forrest told the court.
The court heard there was a policy in place to avoid such instances but a system failure and lack of training led to the incident.
The bus driver and another staff member did not check the interior of the bus, there was no roll call or handover.
Mr Forrest said the centre had continued to operate, under supervision from the department, since the incident and had implemented all changes put forward by the department to ensure this does not happen again.
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The court heard that two staff members, including the bus driver, had since resigned from the centre.
Magistrate Hasted said the sentence needed to act as a deterrent to other agencies working with society's most vulnerable people.
The corporation was fined $18,000 in relation to each charge.
A conviction was not recorded
Originally published as Huge fine after child locked in bus for 90 minutes