A bullying childminder has been jailed for ten months for force-feeding and mistreating toddlers in her care.
Clare Cartwright, 32, lost patience with the youngsters, aged between one and three, and stuffed food into their mouths until some were physically sick.
The registered childminder – herself a mother – also held a three-year-old girl under a cold tap when she refused to eat.
She ran the Little Nippers nursery from her home in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Her teenage staff described her as a ‘bully’ and she regularly swore in front of the children.
She pleaded guilty to four counts of child cruelty which took place over seven months in 2009.
Cartwright would hold children’s heads against a wall, force food into their mouths and clamp them shut, Bradford Crown Court was told.
Prosecutor Sharon Beattie said one mother arrived to pick her one-year-old son up to find ‘he had so much food in his mouth he was starting to choke’. The boy spat the food out and was told by Cartwright: ‘You silly boy, you should have swallowed it.’
When another toddler wasn’t eating his sandwich she ripped it in half and shoved it into his mouth, saying: ‘You have got to eat when you are here.’ She even found the situation ‘amusing,’ the court was told.
When a grandmother arrived to pick up her little girl and asked why her hair was wet Cartwright lied by saying she had spilt orange juice.
Mrs Beattie said: ‘She picked the child up by her leg and arm, then carried her to the sink where she held her face under running water. The child was hysterical.’
Cartwright said later she had ‘lost it’ with the child who had ‘pushed every one of my buttons’.
On another occasion a young girl broke her leg in an accident at the nursery, but Cartwright dropped older children off at school before taking the girl, who was in agony, to hospital. The married mother-of-three looked after 40 children in total between November 2007 and October 2009.
The business was closed when Cartwright was arrested after staff and parents spoke to police.
As well as jailing Cartwright, Judge James Goss QC banned her from working with children again. He added that her breach of trust of the parents who left their children in her care was an aggravating feature of the case.
Dapinder Singh, defending, said Cartwright was unable to cope with the success of the nursery and the only explanation for her actions was ‘stupidity’.
Outside court one of the children’s mothers, who cannot be named, said her two-year-old boy now had trouble eating and sleeping. ‘He was distressed every time he came home and would get upset every time we walked past the nursery.’
Detective Inspector Gail Lawrie of West Yorkshire Police said: ‘Any parent can only imagine the upset and trauma caused to these families.’
Source: Daily Mail