April 2017

Nursery worker ‘punched 6-year-old girl in face’

A nursery nurse punched a six-year-old child in the face and on the leg.

Marissa Birch was found to be “heavily intoxicated and unable to care for” the girl months after the incident.

The worker was employed at Little Deers Nursery in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, when she repeatedly hit the child at an address in January 2014.

She was struck off by the Scottish Social Services Council after it found she had also been convicted of shouting, swearing and uttering racially aggravated remarks at a Bargain B’s off-licence in Stevenston, North Ayrshire, in May 2015.

The watchdog said Birch battered on a door and committed a breach of the peace in a separate incident in September 2014, which led to a criminal conviction.

In its findings, the council also said the nursery nurse had failed to inform it of her convictions, which included another breach of the peace charge in 2012

Birch struck the child on the arm and leg in the incident in January 2014.

The youngster, referred to as AA in the watchdog’s decision, raised the alarm with her head teacher, which led to a “child protection referral”.

The council said: “There were a number of aggravating factors. The misconduct is serious. It involved wholly unacceptable behaviour towards AA and members of the public.

“The behaviour demonstrated an abuse of the trust of AA. The behaviour demonstrated a pattern of behaviour over a number of years.

“You have shown some insight and regret. There is a risk of harm to members of the public, including AA , if the behaviour is repeated.”

It found it “could not be satisfied that the behaviour would not be repeated” and felt that although none of it occurred at work, it felt it could be repeated due to Birch’s “chaotic lifestyle”.

Mitigating factors in the case included the fact that the nursery worker had “no previous record with the council” and she had “cooperated to an extent” with the watchdog.

Birch had also “expressed some regret” since the incidents occurred.

The council ruled a removal order was the “only appropriate sanction which would safeguard the interests of service users, the public and the reputation of the social services profession”.

It added: “Your behaviour was a serious and deliberate abuse of the trust placed in you by AA and members of the public.”