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Nursery worker guilty of assaulting toddler

A nursery worker was today found guilty of assaulting a toddler in his care.

Wesley Prigmore, 21, became frustrated after the two-year-old boy wet himself, Richmond Magistrates' Court, Surrey, was told.

He was seen by another member of staff tapping the little boy over the head with a pair of latex gloves, which were worn by workers at the Twickenham nursery when changing children's clothes.

Prigmore's colleague Andrea Mihaescu told the court she heard the little boy say: "Stop, Wes."

Approximately an hour later when the little boy, who was not toilet trained, wet himself again, Prigmore swore at him in irritation, prosecutor Tony Levy told the court.

Prigmore then told him to go into the bathroom and stay in there, Mr Levy said.

When he let the toddler, who was by then only clothed on his top half, out of the room a short while afterwards, he tapped him three times on the penis with a ruler.

The case was reported to police the next day. When the boy's mother asked him about the incident, he pointed at his head and told her: "Weh (Wes) hit my head."

The two-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, threw a ruler across the floor of the nursery when his mother came to collect him that day, which Magistrates' chairwoman Sarah Houston concluded "was not his normal behaviour".

Prigmore, of Sutton Lane, Hounslow, west London, had denied two counts of common assault but was found guilty by magistrates after a day-long trial.

He had instead claimed to have been tickling the boy with the ruler and playing a game of "tug of war" with it. Prigmore also said he had only changed him once on the day in question, January 18 this year.

There were other staff at the nursery that day, but none had seen the assaults. They described Prigmore, who had worked at the nursery for two years, as a "bubbly" man who got on well with children.

He was suspended immediately after the allegations against him were made and was arrested five days later.

Julian Waskett, defending, said in his closing speech that Prigmore, of previous good character, would have his career ruined by the conviction.

He told the court: "The prosecution has brought crushingly serious charges against this young man. It will end his career as a nursery nurse."

Mr Waskett added that no other complaints had ever been made about Prigmore's behaviour at the nursery and questioned Ms Mihaescu's motivation, saying: "Perhaps she doesn't like young men working in the nursery business."

Ms Houston dismissed Prigmore's evidence however, saying she did not find it "credible".

She said the evidence of Ms Mihaescu was "clear and unshakeable".

Ms Houston added: "She had a clear view of both incidents and reported them as soon as was practicable.

"She had no reason to make up these allegations."

Prigmore did not react as he was found guilty, but his girlfriend broke down in tears.

He will be sentenced at the same court on June 16. He was released on bail but was told he cannot supervise children under the age of 10 without another adult being present.