Mother found guilty of assaulting son with belt

Last updated 05:00 12/04/2013

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A South Canterbury mum has been found guilty of assaulting her child with a weapon after she hit him twice with a fabric belt.

She was charged under the colloquially known anti-smacking law, after an incident in November.

In the Timaru District Court yesterday, Judge Joanna Maze found the charge proved beyond reasonable doubt but did not enter a conviction to allow the mother's lawyer to apply for a discharge without conviction.

Names and identifying details were also suppressed with sentencing adjourned until July 2.

The court heard that in November the mother tried to get her primary-school-age son out of bed at 7.30am.

He began arguing and said he did not want to get out of bed, would not get dressed and was not going to school.

She argued with him for an hour and told him she was about to lose control. About 8.45am she told him she was taking his computer off him and went to remove a computer game.

She walked into the hall and grabbed a fabric belt she had left there and, holding the buckle end, went back into the lounge and hit him twice around the legs, which left a one-centimetre mark.

She then took him to school, returned home and cried before going to work.

A social worker became aware of the situation, the son reluctantly confirmed the story and the mother was spoken to by police.

In her summing up Judge Maze said the child had been being difficult but this year had improved greatly and the family relationship had improved.

"He was not verbally or physically abusing you at the time of the assault.

"You concede you lost control and were very angry.

"She wanted to let him know enough was enough. The force in this case was not reasonable to use what can only can be described as an assault with a weapon.

"Things have changed significantly this year for the family with both parents making significant changes."

She adjourned sentencing to allow time to pursue support that could be offered to the family.

ANTI-SMACKING LEGISLATION

Section 59 (parental control) Crimes Act Repeal Bill, commonly known as the anti-smacking bill:

The only defences for using reasonable force under the act are to prevent harm to the child or another person; preventing the child from taking part in a criminal offence; preventing the child from engaging in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

Police have the discretion not to prosecute where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

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- The Timaru Herald

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