Father avoids jail for assaulting his five-year-old son

AN Enniskillen man who struck his five-year old child so hard he left bruising, and claimed to have exercised “lawful chastisement”, has been given a suspended prison sentence, for the second time, after committing a similar assault on his other child beforehand. 
The accused, who is aged in his thirties, cannot be named to protect the identity of the little boy. Enniskillen Magistrates Court heard the defendant was looking after his two children between September 16 and 18, 2016 who had been left off by their mother for a period of agreed contact. During this, the little boy was struck about the hips by his father who then “put him against a wall.” On return to his mother the child was noted to have bruises and this was reported. 
A doctor carried out an examination and described the injuries as “blunt trauma and not accidental.” The child initially claimed he had fallen but then said, “Daddy was cross because I told lies.” 
The defendant was arrested and during interview provided two pre-prepared statements, which he refused to allow police to copy. He later accepted beating the child but insisted this was “lawful chastisement.” 
A defence lawyer said his client now accepts “There is no way this was reasonable chastisement.” He claimed the defendant was “Raised and disciplined in a manner not unlike his behaviour toward his son. 
In the absence of knowing any better, this is how he behaved.” It was conceded there is a suspended sentence on record for a similar offence involving the other child, but the current matter did not breach that. 
The assault occurred, said the defence, when the child allegedly said his mother’s partner had poked his private areas, but when this was checked with his sibling the father found it to be untrue. He then reacted and now understands his “Parenting techniques were not as required.” 
The defendant was described as “sorry and ashamed” and knows he must address his parenting skills. District Judge Michael Ranahan told the defendant, “It is very regrettable this is the second offence involving your children. 
“I am satisfied the custody threshold is met. I appreciate it is difficult to raise children but the use of force against a child is to be condemned in every shape and form.” 
The judge imposed a sentence of six months imprisonment, but agreed to suspend this for three years. He told the defendant, “Any repetition and your liberty will be taken away from you.”


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