Father ‘beat’ son in homework row

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A Derry man accused of child cruelty allegedly punched his 12-year-old son repeatedly in a row over homework.

The schoolboy told a teacher that he suffered years of attacks if he was bad in school, the High Court heard on Tuesday.

In one incident, the 41-year-old man allegedly beat his son as the boy was getting ready for school.

“He stated that his father came into the room shouting at him about being able to play the Xbox and not being able to do his homework,” said Conor Maguire, for the prosecution.

“The injured party stated his father was really angry and shouted: ‘Are you laughing at me?’ to which the boy replied, ‘no’.

“Then his father began beating him, punching him to the arms, legs and head on several occasions.”

At one stage, the boy’s mother tried to pull her partner off him, and then stepped in between them, the court heard.

Minutes later, when she left the room, the accused allegedly started shouting at the boy again about losing a schoolbook.

Another alleged method of punishment saw the father clench his knuckles into a fist and press them hard against the side of the boy’s head.

The 41-year-old accused cannot be named to protect his son’s identity and faces charges of child cruelty and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Police and social services were alerted after the boy reported the alleged assault to his teacher on February 24.

Doctors assessed bruising on his body as consistent with being inflicted by adult knuckles, the court heard.

Mr Maguire said the boy, who claimed to be subject to the beatings since the age of seven or eight, told his mother he could not take it anymore and was going to tell his teacher.

The court was told the man accepted slapping his son several times with an open hand, but never punching him with a closed fist. He stated that he knew it was against the law to hit a child but felt his actions were reasonable.

Michael Forde, defending, said his client has made partial admissions. He added that the accused wrongly thought he could later return to the home in an attempt to resolve the “family dispute”.

But, despite now being prepared to live at another address in the city, bail was refused.

Mr Justice Stephens said: “There is a prima facie case that the applicant perversely lavished violence and terror as a nourishing environment in which is son is expected to grow into a well-round individual. There is also a prima facie case that there is a pattern of behaviour that a vulnerable child has been terrorised for years by his father.”