Monday 23 April 2018

Man who punched daughter (8) in the face has sentencing adjourned

The father had no prior criminal convictions


Tom Tuite

SENTENCING has been adjourned for a father who was described as being like a boxer when he suddenly lashed out and punched his eight-year-old daughter in the face.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identify of the girl, denied a charge of assault causing harm to her at their home in Dublin on a date in 2013.

He was convicted after he went on trial before Judge Anthony Halpin at Dublin District Court in July.

The case had been adjourned to allow time for a probation report on him to be completed and it has now been furnished to the court.

The man, who is in his forties, was ordered to appear again in mid-October for sentencing.

The trial had heard the girl and an older sibling moved in with their father and his partner a few years before the assault.

However, the girl was closer to his partner whom she began to look on as her mother while she did not bond much with or talk to her father.

The girl gave a statement last year to a garda with special training to interview children.

Giving evidence via video-link the girl, now aged 12, told the court that on the day of the attack her older brother had been looking after her while her stepmother and father had been at work.

The girl said she went to her friend’s house nearby and her brother came to collect her. Her stepmother had come home and was cooking dinner.

The woman was upset the girl was out so late. The child told the court she went out again but didn’t ask for permission. It was about 8pm or 9pm then. She recalled her brother collecting her a second time.

Her father was called and came home.

They were standing in a hallway and her stepmother was telling her how she was very disappointed in her.

She said her father then punched her in the nose and she was bleeding a lot. She remembered hitting her head against a door and her father stormed out.

She agreed the woman has been like a mother to her but she would not have had much bonding time with her father.

She said after she was hit, her stepmother brought her upstairs and looked after her. “I was crying a lot, I’d got a huge fright, banged my head of the door, I couldn’t walk up the stairs properly,” she said.

She did not need to go to the doctor because her nose was not broken. In cross-examination counsel for the defence asked if it was possible she was mixing up what happened. The girl had replied, “I remember because I got punched in the face, I do remember”.

Her brother, who is in his late teens, told the trial, “Out of nowhere, I saw him go full fisted and hit her in the face,” adding that before the blow the man did not look angry or show any facial reaction.

He agreed his father worked long hours and later he and his sister moved in with the stepmother when she broke up with their father.

The stepmother told the trial that as she was giving out to the girl for going back out, her former partner began snorting and exhaling and suddenly punched or slapped the child. She said the girl had a bleeding nostril and she grabbed and hugged the child before bringing her upstairs.

She said she checked her throughout the night to make sure she was breathing okay. “I was horrified, nothing was the same after,” the woman had said.

In cross-examination she said her former partner did not say anything and that “it felt like it was in a boxing ring, he positioned himself and bang, and he looked like he was in danger, like he was in a fight”.

The court heard the woman received a text message from him later in which he said he regretted what he had done.

The father has no prior criminal convictions and presently has no access to the children but it was hoped they could build a relationship, the court was told.

Judge Halpin had said he was moved by the girl’s evidence and he remarked that it was a very sad case. He said he had the impression that the children’s relationship with the man had foundered.

He hoped the Probation Service could help him reach the complex dynamic of saying sorry, he had said.

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