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Father who twice hit his young son narrowly avoids jail

Father who twice hit his young son narrowly avoids jail

Saturday 11 August 2018

Father who twice hit his young son narrowly avoids jail

Saturday 11 August 2018


A father, who on two occasions hit his very young son – once with a belt, and once with a wooden spoon – has narrowly avoided going to prison for grave and criminal assault.

The man – who isn’t being named to protect the identity of the child – was described in Jersey's Royal Court by his defence lawyer, Advocate David Steenson, as a loving father who hit out at his son in a spontaneous moment of frustration after a long day at work.

Prosecuting, Crown Advocate Emma Hollywood, told the Court the offences came to light when police were investigating an unrelated claim from the man’s former wife that he’d assaulted her.

When asked what life was like in the house, the young boy told officers his dad would “get mad easily."

He also told them that on one occasion his dad had hit him on the bottom with a belt, and that on another occasion he was hit with a wooden spoon – again on his bottom or lower back – because he was racking up bills watching YouTube. Because the incidents were historic, there were no injuries to be seen, although the boy told officers he remembered it had been “very painful."

As a result of the investigation the Magistrate’s Court found the man guilty of assaulting his wife. But, it said the alleged assaults on the child – because they involved weapons, a belt and a wooden spoon – were too serious for it to deal with and would have to be heard by the Royal Court.

That decision – to deal with one case but not the other - was criticised by Royal Court Commissioner Sir Michael Birt in his summing up saying: “one court should have dealt with both cases so it can take an overall view."

Because of the seriousness of the charges, Advocate Hollywood, said the man should be sent to prison for nine months.

But, when sentencing him the Court said it had taken note of the mitigating factors put by the defence. These included the assaults were isolated incidents, and not premeditated; he had admitted them and in doing so had avoided a situation where his son would have had to give evidence; and he was genuinely remorseful.

Although Advocate Steenson did not support corporal punishment he said it wasn’t that long ago that teachers used slippers on children or would rap their knuckles with a ruler.

Sir_Michael_Birt.jpeg

Pictured: Sir Michael Birt described the accused's actions as "totally unacceptable" and that he had narrowly missed being sent to prison.

Passing sentence, Sir Michael said the man’s behaviour had been totally unacceptable and that children should feel safe in their homes. But, he felt on balance a prison sentence was not warranted. Instead he sentenced the man to a nine-month probation order, and 120 hours community service. He’s also banned from contacting his children for three years unless another court varies that decision. 

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