A Christchurch man who beat his children and stepchildren with a vacuum cleaner pipe has been sentenced to nine months of supervision and 150 hours of community work.
The 44-year-old, who has name suppression to protect his teenage victims, was sentenced today in the Christchurch District Court on five charges of assault on a child and two of assault.
His case was originally due to be heard before a jury, but the trial could not go ahead after his victims refused to give evidence.
He pleaded guilty when the Crown agreed to reduce the charges.
The father was sentenced for striking his children and stepchildren by slapping them around the head, or beating them with a belt, vacuum cleaner pipe, garden hose or broomstick.
Child, Youth, and Family took the children away when there was an assault that got the authorities involved and charges were laid.
Since then, three of them have been returned to live with him near Christchurch, and the fourth has returned at her own request after a time living with her mother in Australia.
Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier said the Crown was not surprised at the attitude of the children about giving evidence when they had been put back into the man's care. She said she was concerned about the man's entrenched views about child discipline, revealed in his pre-sentence report.
Defence counsel Bryan Green said the man was a hard worker in the transport industry and the offending occurred when he was working long hours and was facing a stressful time from the earthquakes, and with four teenagers living in the house.
Judge Callaghan told the man: "I got the clear impression that you disciplined them as you had been disciplined yourself.
"Your offending was reminiscent of old-age parenting ways in which children in lots of households were disciplined, in the 1940s and 50s, and maybe the early 60s. Indeed, corporal punishment was used on a relatively regular basis in all schools until it was outlawed."
He noted that the man's discipline was not carried out "for the sake of violence" and was never done when he was affected by alcohol.
"The fact remains that what you did was illegal. Bringing them up in the way you have so far runs the risk that they will accept that this type of conduct is normal when they grow up. There are years left when you can show them you can be a more compassionate parent."
The man has now reluctantly agreed that he cannot physically discipline the children. He has completed a personal development programme and as part of his supervision he will have to attend parenting and anger management sessions as required.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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