A judge has said the lasting ‘emotional and psychological damage’ caused to a boy whose father hit him with a Dr Marten boot is ‘incalculable’.
District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment as he imposed the maximum six month jail sentence on the father.
The judge said if he could give the defendant “six times that I would.”
Judge McElholm added that the case “once again highlights the need for new domestic violence legislation here, which we probably won’t get because we have no government and the crowd in London have abdicated all responsibility for us.”
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of assaulting his son on January 2, last year.
Derry Magistrate’s Court heard that the boy and his sister were at his father’s house and were getting ready to go home when the assault occurred.
The defendant lifted his daughter’s Dr Marten boot, wound the laces around his hand and hit the boy ‘forcefully twice on the left knee’.
The boy sustained an egg sized bruise on his knee and was crying for around 20 minutes after being hit.
The incident was reported to social services two days later and the boy was medically examined. There was no injury observed during the examination due to the passage of time.
A victim impact statement was provided to the court which indicated the effect this assault has had on the young boy, whose age was not disclosed.
Defence counsel Steven Mooney said his client continues to deny this offence.
He added that it took place around 18 months ago and since then the man has had no contact with his son and supervised contact with his two other children.
The barrister said the relationship between father and son is ‘very, very bad’ and that has been a ‘significant enough punishment’.
Mr Mooney said there was a ‘heated environment’ when this offence occurred and the boy had not sustained any lasting injuries.
The Judge said that while there were “no lasting physical injuries the lasting emotional and psychological injury to this child is incalculable. He is already getting into trouble in school, he is confused and feels small, inadequate and angry all the time.
“Those are the sort of things you read subsequently in pre-sentence reports.”
The judge said it is a parent’s responsibility “to bring children up to feel loved. This man had the audacity to come in here and call his children liars.”
Passing sentence, Judge McElholm told the defendant: ‘It is a disgrace I can only give you six months, but not as big a disgrace as you.”
The defendant was granted leave to appeal both his conviction and sentence.
He was released on bail and banned from having any contact with his son.
The judge ordered that any contact with the defendant’s other two children must continue to be supervised.
The next appeal court is likely to be held in the County Court in September.