Dad spared jail for smacking Daughter
A dad who smacked his four-year-old daughter leaving a large bruise on her back was today spared jail.
The 35-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons as that would identify his victim, admitted common assault.The dad-of-four was originally charged with two counts of child neglect, but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence.
Liverpool Crown Court heard the single parent became friendly with the mum of one of his daughter's friends.Jonathan Rogers, prosecuting, said he took his daughter to play with the friend at the woman's house and his daughter sat on the floor. Mr Rogers said: "She leaned forward and the woman saw a red and purple bruise, which almost covered the whole of her back."
The woman described this oval-shaped bruise as being around 9cm by 6cm in size and said she asked the dad what had happened.Mr Rogers said he became upset and initially stated his daughter "may have been naughty so he smacked her once causing her to fall".
He said: "He then stated he hit her twice and hadn't realised how hard he hit her." The woman told the dad to leave and the victim stayed the night at her house and was reluctant to return home the next day.
The court heard police were called and attended his home that night, but when they arrived, his daughter was asleep. The prosecutor said: "He said he put her on the naughty step, she did not behave, so he smacked her on the bottom resulting in a bruise." Mr Rogers said this resulted in a visit from social workers, but it appeared they didn't examine the girl's bottom or back.
The court heard said they identified a bruise on her elbow, but this was an old bruise. Mr Rogers said the girl had been taken off her dad and was now living with another family. Her guardian said she was a "troubled child" and while her behaviour had improved, was prone to outbursts of violence. Carmel Wilde, defending, said it was "out of character" for the dad, who has one previous conviction for serious violence as a youth.
She said: "He's devastated that he caused such bruising. The biggest punishment of course for this defendant is that he has not had contact with any of his four children since that time." Ms Wilde added that her remorseful client now has a new girlfriend, with whom he is expecting a baby. Judge David Aubrey, QC, said the dad admitted assaulting a four-year-old child who was "extremely vulnerable".
He told him: "At the time the child was in your care and control. You should not have laid one finger upon the child, but you smacked the child on her bottom twice. "You accept that the smacks were too hard, far too hard in the court's judgement, as is evidenced by the injury that was sustained to her on the lower back.
"But this court must sentence you in accordance with your basis of plea by which you accept that your actions amounted to excessive chastisement. "The Crown clearly have considered this case extremely carefully as to whether to accept that basis of plea or not, and so it is you will be sentenced in accordance with that basis of plea."
The judge said the dad was now in a new relationship and expecting to become a father again with his new partner. He said: "In the court's judgement children will be protected from you by the imposition of a community order to ensure that you receive assistance, advice and supervision as to your - in particular - responsibilities as a parent."
Judge Aubrey sentenced the dad to an 18-month community order and told him to attend a Building Better Relationships programme and a 40-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. He said: "I emphasise, that is designed to ensure that you are a responsible parent and to advise you as to how children - your children - should be cared for and nurtured during their formative years when they are extremely young, extremely tender and extremely vulnerable." The prosecution offered no evidence on the two child neglect counts and the judge returned formal not guilty verdicts.
Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Its telephone lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm and 9am to 4pm at the weekend.
You can contact the charity online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/reporting-abuse/report/