Derry man jailed for 11 months after he ‘slapped’ six-year-old son

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A judge has told a man who hit his six-year-old son: “You, as a parent, are a disgrace.”

District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment as he jailed the 41-year-old defendant for a total of eleven months.

The defendant, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty to one charge of common assault on March 12, 2017.

However, he later told a probation officer he was innocent and only entered a guilty plea to prevent his son from having to give evidence.

Judge McElholm said that by saying this, the man had implied his son is a ‘liar and has made all this up’.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard the boy told a social worker on March 16, 2017, that he had been hit by his father the previous week.

The boy sustained a mark to his thigh as a result of the assault.

A medical examination was carried out by a consultant paediatrician who noted a number of injuries, some of which were deemed suspicious.

The doctor reported the boy had significant bruising to his thigh which was most likely in keeping with finger marks.

An ‘achieving best evidence’ interview was carried out with the boy who told police that his father had slapped him on the thigh while they were in his father’s friend’s house.

A victim impact report from the victim was provided to the court.

A defence barrister said this incident represented ‘at its height, chastisement in excess’.

He said the defendant did not have a history of behaving in this way and there was ‘no propensity or pattern of conduct’.

The barrister said it was an ‘extraordinarily unfortunate incident’ that ‘should never have happened in the first place’.

He added: “One hopes that everyone has learned their lesson and contact between them can be reestablished in the fullness of time.”

It was revealed to the court the defendant was in breach of a suspended sentence for breaching a non-molestation order. The court also heard he had breached this court order on four occasions.

Judge McElholm told the defendant ‘you, as a parent, are a disgrace’.

“You have shown no remorse and still maintain you are innocent,” he said.

The judge imposed the six-month suspended sentence and jailed the man for five months consecutively for the assault, making a total sentence of eleven months.

However, the judge granted an application for bail pending an appeal of the sentence.

The man was released on his own bail of £750 to reside at an address in the city. He was also ordered to have no contact with his son or his son’s mother.