Man cleared of beating sons with belt: Verdict criticised by groups against corporal punishment

A FATHER who was reported to police after disciplining his children with a leather belt was cleared of assault yesterday. Campaigners against corporal punishment said the North Avon magistrates' verdict was wrong.

Peter Newell, coordinator of End Physical Punishment of Children, said: 'Beating children with a belt is child abuse.' He said the message that belting gave children was that adults felt violence was an acceptable way of dealing with problems. Other courts had convicted parents in similar circumstances, he said. He feared that the case would confuse discipline with violence.

In English law the defence to a charge of assault by parents is to argue they were using 'reasonable chastisement'. Each case is decided on its merits. The Scottish Law Commission last year recommended that beating children with any instrument, or inflicting injury, should be a separate offence.

Corporal punishment is banned in state schools.

In the case decided yesterday the 30-year-old defendant, who has five children, and cannot be named for legal reasons, found his two sons aged five and eight wrecking a dining room chair with a knife at their home in Bristol. He first shouted at them to stop, then when they ignored him, he gave them 'three of the best' on the bottom with his belt, and forgot the incident.

Within 24 hours a PE teacher at the boys' school spotted their bruised bottoms and told his headmaster, who told the local social services, who in turn called the police.

The father, a security guard, was arrested and charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. He admitted hitting the boys but denied assault charges claiming he was legally allowed to chastise his own children.

After the case was dismissed, he said: 'I love my family and don't enjoy disciplining my children. I'm a good father and I didn't do anything wrong. They were naughty and I punished them in the way I saw fit.

'I believe in discipline when it's necessary and corporal punishment. The law in this country is too soft.'

Nick Smith, for the prosecution, had told the magistrates: 'He got a belt from his dressing room table, put each of the boys over his knee and smacked them three times each on the backside with the belt. There was severe bruising on each child.'

David Hebblethwaite, for the defence, told the court: 'There is no law in this country preventing parents from punishing their children.'

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
fashion
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

News
people

Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband

News
The Bounceway, designed by Architecture for Humanity
newsLondon to add 'The Bounceway' to commuting options
Life and Style
Stefan Gates with some mince flies
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rooney Mara plays a white Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
filmFirst look at Rooney Mara in Pan
Life and Style
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
tech
Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Langley James : Senior Infrastructure Engineer; VMWare, Windows; Bolton; £40k

£40000 per annum + benefits: Langley James : Senior Infrastructure Engineer; V...

h2 Recruit Ltd: BDD - Digital Banking Technology / CEM - £150k ote

£75000 - £100000 per annum + £150k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: There are many compani...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Graduate Consultant - Sales Recruitment - £35k ote

£18000 - £25000 per annum + £35k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Looking for your first s...

Recruitment Genius: Advertising Media Sales - Print, Online & Mobile

£19000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing house has been ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital