South West Wales

Ex-Port Talbot nursery boss and workers cleared of cruelty

Bright Sparks nursery

A Port Talbot nursery owner and two members of staff have been found not guilty of causing cruelty to children.

Bright Sparks in Taibach closed last year amid claims young children were being force-fed and restrained.

Owner Katie Davies, 32, deputy Christina Pinchess, 31, and staff member Shelbie Forgan, 22, were cleared of all charges following the trial at Swansea Crown Court.

An investigation was launched amid claims children were being manhandled.

During the course of the trial jurors heard students, who raised the concerns, had "exaggerated" what they saw.

Bright Sparks was opened in 2015 by qualified teacher Ms Davies after she spent more than £100,000 converting an old chapel into a nursery.

However, the claims about ill-treatment saw the business shut - and also prompted a mandatory social services probe for Ms Pinchess.

During the trial, the former live-in nanny described feeling "mortified" at the situation.

"It was scary," she added. "I wouldn't wish it upon anyone."

Image copyright Athena
Image caption Katie Davies, Shelbie Forgan and Christina Pinchess (l-r) all denied child cruelty charges

After the hearing, a statement on behalf of the three women was read outside the court.

Solicitor Giles Hayes said the three maintained the allegations were "unfounded and completely without substance".

He continued: "The three women who stand next to me here have completely unblemished characters and have had their lives turned upside down.

"Bright Sparks was a wonderful environment for children and that business was set up to care for children.

"This was a case, in our view, that demanded a much more thorough investigation before it pursued in the criminal courts.

"It is the hope of all three ladies here that they can put this case behind them and move on and pursue their careers."

A Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) spokeswoman said Ms Davies had voluntarily suspended her registration for Bright Sparks last year and it would now consider what further action was needed in relation to that.

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