Cillian O’Driscoll tragically died on the 14th December 2018, in Cork University Hospital at 4 years of age. He had been found unresponsive by a staff member in KinderCare Childcare, Ballincollig, Co. Cork shortly after 2pm.
During the course of the Inquest, which was held on the 23rd January 2020, the Coroner and Jury heard how it was very unusual for Cillian, who had Autism and was non-verbal, to nap during the day. However, on this particular day, he had been left to sleep on the upper storey of a play treehouse for over two and a half hours. It appears that for the last two hours of Cillian’s life, he was not checked by any members of staff.
The Inquest, presided over by Coroner Philip Comyn, delivered a verdict of death by natural causes. The Jury also made a recommendation that all staff in crèches be made aware of all policies and procedures in place and are regularly updated on any changes to them.
Cillian’s parents, Deirdre and John Paul O’Driscoll, who were represented by Ms. Amy Connolly of Cantillons Solicitors, made the following statement following the Inquest;
“At 8.10am on the 14th December, 2018 we dropped our beloved Cillian to KinderCare Crèche, Ballincollig, Co. Cork. He did not have a worry in the world, nor did we.
At 2.30pm, we got an urgent call from the Crèche to go directly to Cork University Hospital, where Cillian had been brought, and where he subsequently passed away a few hours later. We now know that in the intervening hours after we had dropped Cillian to the Crèche, he had been placed for a nap in the upper storey of a play tree-house. This was most unusual for Cillian, who very rarely napped during the day, unless he was unwell. He never napped at the weekends, and he never napped in the Crèche previously.
Cillian was diagnosed with Autism, and he had communication difficulties.
If Cillian had taken a nap at home, which he rarely did, we would have checked him regularly, and we certainly would have checked him every 15 minutes or so. We now know that Cillian was in the play tree-house for 2.5 hours. There were long periods when he was not checked. For the last 2 hours of his life, he was not checked at all. If Cillian had been checked, it is clear that his evolving viral infection would have been spotted, and action taken, and he would be with us today.
We now know that TUSLA carried out inspections of the Crèche, prior to Cillian’s passing, and indeed, after Cillian had passed. In the inspection after Cillian had passed, TUSLA correctly highlighted the absence of a Sleep Monitoring Policy in the Crèche for children of Cillian’s age (toddlers). We cannot understand how TUSLA, who are supposed to be the experts, could possibly have permitted the Crèche to operate, if there was no Sleep Monitoring Policy in place, as certainly was the case for Cillian, who was not monitored. TUSLA should have insisted that a Sleep Monitoring Policy be put in place for toddlers, and the Crèche should not have been permitted to continue in operation in the absence of such a Policy.
Whilst nothing can bring Cillian back, and our pain will be with us forever, we do hope that lessons can be learnt from today. In particular, we think it is vitally important that a number of things happen:-
Finally, we would like to thank our family and friends that have supported us through this difficult time, and indeed the Coroner for the sensitive way in which he dealt with this Inquest”.