A man who slapped his daughter with a charger cord when she asked a question about her homework has been handed a 200-hour community service order.
The 41-year-old Portadown man, who we have not identified in order to protect the victim, was charged with one count of cruelty to a person under 16 at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
The prosecution outlined that on November 11, 2021, police received a referral from social services in regards to a child protection concern.
A child had disclosed to a teacher in school that on November 9, her father had “hit her on the leg with a phone charger cord.”
The defendant was arrested on November 12 for the offence of child cruelty. The court heard that he made full admissions during interview.
It was later explained by the District Judge Bernie Kelly that the child had asked her father a question about her homework that she was having difficulty understanding and that is why she was “slapped”.
The defendant’s solicitor said that there can be “no justification for his actions.”
“To his credit, he has demonstrated genuine remorse and has worked with the family team of social services in order to address any underlying issues that may have existed.
“He made full admissions in interview and has dealt with the matter properly since it has come to court. He is keen to rebuild the relationship with his daughter but fully accepts that he has to be sanctioned for his actions.”
He added that his client was an “industrious man” who works full-time hours, and that his short period in custody was a “very salutary lesson for him.”
The defendant acknowledged that he had done something wrong, but added that it was due to his “work pressure”.
Judge Kelly described the incident as “serious”.
“Your daughter will never forget this,” she said. “She’ll remember it for the rest of her life. The psychological damage that you can do to your child by behaving in this way is immeasurable.”
In light of the defendant’s plea of guilty and lack of a previous record, Judge Kelly concluded that the imposition of a community-based disposal was sufficient, and in turn, imposed a community service order of 200 hours.
Judge Kelly told the defendant that if he failed to cooperate with probation, the matter could be referred back to court.
The defendant, however, raised a concern that he would have difficulty completing a community order due to his current working hours.
Judge Kelly replied: “He clearly doesn’t understand the seriousness of this matter. I’m imposing a community order for an assault on a child, and a particularly nasty assault at that. He should actually be saying thank you from that seat, not querying when he can squeeze it in around his hours of work.
“If this case comes back to court because of his lack of cooperation, the penalty imposed today will be replaced with a period of immediate custody.”