THE estranged wife of a man who was convicted of punching his two-year-old son in the face after drinking says the judge who sentenced the father to probation was too lenient.
The mother of three from Co Waterford, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was appalled by a justice system that let her estranged husband walk free after he pleaded guilty to assaulting their then two-year-old son. He was requested to post a bail bond of €100 and to keep the peace for 12 months.
"It was a circus – a farce," said Rachel, not her real name. "I don't think he understood the severity of it," she said."
Waterford District Court Judge Rory MacCabe sentenced the 37-year-old man to probation last week after the court heard he had "snapped" while minding the couple's three children on April 12, 2011.
The man had been drinking during the day and was annoyed by the children misbehaving before he lashed out at the little boy.
He initially texted his wife, telling her that the child had fallen and injured himself, before putting him to bed.
However, the following day, Rachel noticed a fist mark on the side of her son's face and his ear was black inside and out.
The boy suffered permanent damage to the cartilage in his ear, which a doctor said was typically found in injuries suffered by adult rugby players.
He is also undergoing tests for his hearing as well as for autism. He has exhibited aggressive behaviour and bangs his head against the floor and doors, the court heard.
Insp Paul Heffernan told the court the assault was unnecessary and cowardly. Despite his testimony and the boy's injuries, Mr Justice MacCabe said it appeared that the man had suffered "a momentary lapse of control" and noted he has taken steps to deal with his drinking and anger.
A probation report found the man poses a low risk of re-offending. However, speaking after the ruling, Rachel said her estranged husband should be locked away to protect her and their children.
In a victim impact statement that she was not permitted to submit to the court, she said her son "has been through an absolutely appalling ordeal at the hands of the man he is meant to call Daddy".
She wrote: "To see a little two-year-old boy, still a baby, looking like he did, all bruised and hurt, and to know in your heart that his own father had inflicted such injuries on him was such a heartbreaking moment," she said.