Man denies burning boy

Last updated 07:48 22/02/2013

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A Blenheim man accused of burning a 7-year-old boy with a lighter told police he burned the boy by accident while trying to teach him not to play with lighters.

The man, 36, was on trial in the Blenheim District Court yesterday charged with assault with a weapon, after the boy's hand was burnt on June 30 last year. Giving evidence by video link to the court, the boy said the man held the lighter against his hand even though he was crying and the man told the boy he was burning him so he could "get into the army and fight in the war".

The man cried as the boy gave evidence.

Crown prosecutor Sophie O'Dona ghue told the jury of six men and six women the pair went to Wairau Hospital about 9pm after the man tripped and cut his head. A police officer drove them back to the man's house, because he was drunk and at some point after that he burned the boy's hand, she said.

Staff discovered the burn when the pair came back to hospital a few hours later so the man could have more treatment on his cut, she said.

A doctor who examined the boy said he had a horseshoe-shaped burn between his thumb and forefinger, which was red and blistered. Under cross examination from defence lawyer Philip Watson, the doctor said the burn fitted the boy's description of what happened, but he could not be sure when it happened.

In a police interview played to the court, the man repeatedly insisted the burn was an accident that happened around 2pm after he used the lighter to light his fire. The child picked up the lighter but he snatched it off him and was telling him not to play with it when the boy reached up and touched the back of his hand with the lighter's hot metal end, he said.

In the interview, the man told police he was not drunk when he went to the hospital, but had been taking sleeping pills, which had giving him dizzy spells and blackouts in previous days. He could not remember what caused him to trip over and cut his head, and did not remember the boy coming back to his house after the first hospital visit, he said.

He insisted he would never burn a child, saying it was horrific and the idea that he would burn the boy so he could get into the army did not make sense. The trial is expected to finish tomorrow.

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- The Marlborough Express

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