Tyrone man jailed for ‘horrific’ assault on his three-year-old daughter

Dungannon Courthouse
Dungannon Courthouse

A County Tyrone man has been jailed for what a judge described as a “horrifi c and humiliating” assault on his three year old daughter.

East Tyrone Magistrates Court heard he claimed the matter would never have reached court if it hadn’t been for the actions of a “nosey neighbour”.

It sometimes takes a concerned neighbour to alert authorities in these instances. In addition you claim sending you to prison would be detrimental to your children as they would be separated from you. I think it is a great idea

The defendant, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the toddler, was observed to remove her underwear and strike her so severely he left bruising to both hips. The incident occurred on January 7 2015 and a witness alerted Social Services.

The defendant accepted his behaviour to a social worker and police at the scene, and pleaded guilty at his first court appearance, when pre-sentence reports were ordered. Defence counsel explained his client had not wasted any court time and accepted culpability at once. It was conceded there had been a previous lesser incident of smacking when he “over-reacted” with an older child in the past.

However District Judge Bernie Kelly remarked: “There is an unrelated assault conviction so it is clear he has a propensity for violence.” She added:“He is the victim’s father. That little girl believed she was supposed to be cared for and nurtured by him.

“He was supposed to protect her from harm and keep her safe. That is now gone forever.”

The defence said their client had a traumatic childhood being moved to various care homes.

Following this offence he was removed from the family unit for a significant time, however the court heard the children have now been removed from the At Risk registered and Social Services are no longer actively involved. The defendant’s partner is standing by him, and was present in court. Referring to a pre-sentence report the defence conceded his client had been assessed as a medium risk of re-offending. Judge Kelly remarked: “Well I suppose there is a limit to how many children he can have.”

This was met by stunned silence from the defence. Addressing the defendant, Judge Kelly said: “You have smacked all but one of your children, except the two-year old. This was horrific. No fully grown adult should have any loss of temper to this level against a child.

“You added humiliation by removing the child’s underwear to get a better go at her, and in a temper, you hit her so hard that she suffered significant bruising to both hips. She’s three. You then state in the pre-sentence report this would never have got this far if not for a nosey neighbour. No.

“This may never have come to the attention of authorities were it not for a concerned neighbour.

“It sometimes takes a concerned neighbour to alert authorities in these instances. In addition you claim sending you to prison would be detrimental to your children as they would be separated from you. I think it is a great idea.

“Every time you lose your temper your child will be thinking, ‘Am I going to be on the receiving end of that?’ Your other children probably have similar thoughts.”

Ruling only custody would suffice, Judge Kelly concluded:“You were in a privileged position of trust. Children must be protected.” The defendant was jailed for four months. His partner broke down in tears as sentence was passed.