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In November 2019 it was reported that a childcare worker (now known to be Jayden McCarthy) had been arrested over allegations that children were sexually abused at the Jack and Jill Childcare Nursery, Courtland Road, Torquay, Devon. McCarthy joined the nursery as an apprentice in March 2019. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks were carried out.
The investigation began in summer 2019 after an allegation of sexual assault was made. The police contacted more than a hundred families, but it was later stated that letters had been sent to the parents of 52 children.
Jayden McCarthy, the childcare worker, of Brixham, Devon, was a boy of 17 years of age, at the time of arrest on the 29 July 2019. He was released on police bail to 22 January 2020. The bail was extended while investigations continued.
Jayden McCarthy first appeared in court at Exeter Youth Court in May 2020. He was charged with one count of rape against a child and 13 counts of sexual touching in respect of eight children. He was also charged with two counts of historic rape, although those charges did not relate to the Jack and Jill nursery, in Torquay. The 17-year-old was bailed until 2 June 2020, to appear at Exeter Crown Court.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector James Stock said that officers had reviewed more than 250 hours of CCTV footage. He said, “as a result of CCTV enquiries, a number of children aged 2+ have been identified as potential victims of contact offences.” He went on to state that “the contact appears to be limited to within the nursery setting and we do not believe that any other member of staff had knowledge of the matters. These appear to be the actions of a lone individual and the offences do not involve the taking or distributing of any images”.
Nancy Meehan, Deputy Director of Torbay children’s services said, “we take safeguarding children incredibly seriously and we are working closely with partners including the police in relation to this matter”.
When appearing at court on the 2 June 2020, Jayden McCarthy from South Devon, pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting children at the nursery, during a 19 day period. Jayden McCarthy was alleged to have raped one girl and sexually assaulted 8 others, all aged 2 or 3 years, between July 10 and July 2019.
Jayden McCarthy was also charged with two unrelated rapes of a child between 2014 and 2015. He was alleged to have assaulted one child three times, on different dates, and another two children, twice.
He denied a total of three counts of raping a child and 13 counts of sexually assaulting a child, when he appeared by Skype at the hearing at Exeter Crown Court on the 2 June 2020.
Judge Timothy Rose set a provisional date of 21 September 2020, for a two-week trial at Exeter Crown Court. However, Judge David Evans adjourned the case, as there were problems in the preparation of the prosecution and defence cases.
On 17 May 2021 Jayden McCarthy, aged 16 at the time of the alleged offences, went on trial at Exeter Crown Court, accused of sexually assaulting nine children at a nursery in Torbay. The prosecution alleged the CCTV footage revealed 13 incidents when Jayden McCarthy is caught sexually assaulting children. He is now aged 18 years of age.
According to the prosecution Jayden McCarthy would commit the offences while encouraging children to crawl over him on the floor, away from staff in a toilet block, or when applying sun cream.
The prosecution stated, “over the course of several weeks in 2019 Jayden McCarthy sexually assaulted nine children. These assaults were of varying degrees of seriousness, ranging from touching children over and under clothing in their private areas to an incident of rape”.
At the trial Jayden McCarthy denied the sexual offences. The jury were shown 13 CCTV clips taken in July 2019 of him touching eight children inappropriately.
Jayden McCarthy, age 18 at the time of trial, was found guilty of one count of rape and 13 counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 13 in relation to the Jack and Jill Nursery in Torbay / Torquay. He was also found guilty of 2 further rapes on a boy, in 2014, not connected with the nursery.
At Exeter Crown Court he was handed down a custodial sentence of 11 years and 6 months.
Detective Chief Inspector James Stock, ofthe Public Protection Unit at Devon and Cornwall Police, said the case had been an "emotionally challenging and incredibly complex case".
A representative of the NSPCC said, NSPCC said: “This is an awful case in which a number of very young children, and their families, have been affected and will need support to overcome.
“The bravery and courage shown in giving evidence is truly commendable. It has helped bring this offender to justice and we hope that the conviction gives all those impacted by this abuse some measure of closure.”
Victims of Jayden McCarthy
All the victims will have lifelong anonymity, because of the nature of the offences
Jack and Jill Childcare Nursery
The Jack and Jill nursery in Torquay was a privately-run childcare Nursery, accommodating children from birth until five years, providing full day care. The nursery was incorporated in June 2016 and registered in December 2017. On 13 July 2019 OFSTED received notification of an alleged incident at the nursery, which resulted in an unannounced visit by Ofsted and the subsequent issue of a notice to improve. That notice required the nursery to ensure that all staff understood and took account of all aspects of safeguarding children, particularly with regards to allegations made against a member of staff. On the 4 October 2019 OFSTED undertook a further visit to Jack and Jill nursery, Torquay, which resulted in the serving of a welfare requirement notice. That notice required the nursery to ensure all staff had a secure knowledge and clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, particularly with regard to staff interactions with children and how and when physical intervention was to be used.
OFSTED suspended the nursery’s registration because they believed children may have been at risk of harm. On the 8 January 2020 the Torquay nursery resigned their registration and thus the Jack and Jill Childcare Nursery, Torquay, was closed. At the time of closing the managers of the nursery made a statement: “Following [alleged] events from July 2019, we have worked tirelessly alongside the police, Ofsted and the local authority. Thank you for your support over the years, and more especially recently. The love and care shown by so many of you has brought light during such darkness. We wish you every happiness and success, and may 2020 be a year of positivity for you all. With love and thanks from Jack and Jill Childcare Limited”.
The childcare business had been operating for 15 years.
An independent review into the actions of Jayden McCarthy, commissioned by Torbay’s Safeguarding Partnership, will be completed following the criminal trial.
What to do if you have been the victim of sexual abuse in a nursery or school
If you or someone you know experienced sexual abuse at a nursery or school, it is not too late to pursue legal action, even if you did not report it at the time. Our child abuse solicitors are highly experienced in helping children and adults deal with both recent and historic allegations of child abuse in nurseries and schools, so please get in touch to find out more about taking action.