Dionne Grills, 34, appeared in Cairns Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning, where she was granted bail with non-contact provisions. Her case is set to return to court on March 18.
Michael Glenn Lewis, the 45-year-old male driver of the minibus was also charged with the manslaughter of the Cairns boy, whose body was discovered on the vehicle more than six hours after he was picked up last week. He will face court later today.
The little boy was collected from a Mount Sheridan property about 9am last Tuesday and should have been taken to the Goodstart Early Learning centre at Edmonton.
Police allege the boy was left on the bus when it was parked for the day outside Hambledon State School, about 1.7km from the child care centre. His body was found in the vehicle at about 3.15pm that day.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Acting Detective Inspector Jason Smith was asked if the Ms Grills was involved in helping the child get on and off the bus.
He said, “her position as an employee of Goodstart Early Learning, would have the responsibility upon her”.
He said the boy’s cause of death had been conveyed to police, and suggested that was likely to come out at Tuesday’s court hearing.
“The manslaughter charge refers to an act or a mission which is negligent and has brought about the death of another person,” he said.
The investigation has involved specialist officers from Brisbane and Townsville. “Police have liaised with the family, and the broader family in Townsville,” Acting Det Insp Smith said.
“The family is suitably distressed and very upset about this. And hopefully, now that the matter is before the court, they’ll get the answers that they need.” He said the bus came to be outside the school as part of the vehicle’s planned route for the day and at this stage, no other workers were being investigated over the boy’s death.
The accused pair had sought legal advice “but they haven’t been obstructive”, the detective said.
Goodstart says the charges prompted it to formally stand aside “two educators” from its Edmonton centre.
“We can confirm that we have a senior manager from Goodstart in Cairns who is working closely with the Queensland Police family liaison officer to ensure we do all that we can to support the family of the little boy during this tragic time,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Goodstart, which owns the minibus, has suspended its pick-up and drop-off services, and its Edmonton centre remains closed, with children offered places at other locations.
Police had to wait to interview the driver, who was so distressed by the boy’s death that he was taken to hospital.