September 19, 2013
For the New Brunswick Beacon
See Original Here
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
A Fredericton man has been sentenced to 12 months probation after pushing and striking his thirteen-year-old daughter.
The man, 42, appeared in court this morning on three charges: assault, failure to appear in court, and breach of probation. He received a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail, meaning he will not have to serve time as long as he does not violate his probation.
On the morning of the assault, the victim woke up, ate breakfast and went to school. She later returned home to watch TV in her bedroom.
Around 2 p.m., her father entered her room and the two got in an argument over the victim’s failure to feed the family fish. The argument continued, and he told his daughter to pick up her shoes in the living room.
She complied, and when she bent over to pick them up, her father placed his hands on her from behind and pushed her down.
The victim went crying to her bedroom and emerged an hour later asking if she could go to her mother’s house. Her father said no. She persisted and he slapped her across her right cheek. After that, she left the apartment and ran to her mother’s house.
The perpetrator was scheduled to be in court on Aug. 23 but failed to appear.
“With respect to the assault, I love my daughter and I’d like to see her as soon as possible,” said the father.
His rights to see his daughter are suspended due to proceedings before the Court of Queen’s Bench.
The Crown agreed to drop the charges for breach of probation, and in exchange, he plead guilty to failure to appear in court. The Defence did not offer any evidence against and agreed to accept the facts presented by the Crown on the assault charges.
The father wiped tears from his eyes with his grey sweatshirt as Judge Mary Jane Richards read the guilty verdict.
“Once one gets to the age of adolescence or preadolescence, they should not be touched,” said Judge Richards. “No one should ever be slapped in the face.”
The Crown requested that the convicted receive a 30 day suspended sentence for the assault charge and 12 months of probation in connection with the failure to appear in court.
“It’s in the lower range of any violent act, per say,” said the Crown.
According to section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, parents are permitted to use a reasonable amount of force to discipline children. However, slapping and blows to the head are considered harmful and hitting a child in retaliation for their actions is illegal. In 2004, the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law applied to have it overturned, but the Supreme Court upheld it in a vote of six to three.
The Defence told the court that the perpetrator works mostly seasonal employment, has a history with alcohol addiction and is in a methadone program.
“I was just depressed. I don’t really have an alcohol problem,” said the father. “I only drank a little because I was depressed.”
He stopped drinking after entering the methadone program, as the two cause negative interactions. He told the courts that he let his appointments slip away from him, and that he’s going to return to his doctor and get his depression treated.
The father also has an extensive criminal record, including an assault charge in 2006 for which he received a sentence of two years in prison.
“Based on your prior record, the suspended sentence is not harsh,” said Judge Richards.