Wairarapa stepdad convicted for smacking toddler

Wairarapa Times-Age 6 Aug 2013
A dairy farmer who smacked a 2-year-old on the bottom was told by the sentencing judge that, while it was once acceptable to spank a child, it was now illegal to do so.  Jessie Wayne Smith, 26, was sentenced to supervision after pleading guilty to assault on a child, when he appeared in Masterton District Court last week.  Judge Tony Walsh said it was no longer appropriate for people to smack a child. “Years ago, no one would have turned an eye to this sort of behaviour but now we do. What you did was quite illegal.”

In Smith’s case, Judge Walsh said he had gone too far when disciplining his stepson. The police summary stated that on July 13 Smith was at home with his 5-year-old daughter and his partner’s 2-year-old son. While his partner was out buying food, the 2-year-old started throwing toys around his room. Smith entered the boy’s bedroom and spoke to him about an incident earlier in the day where the boy had hit his mother. When the boy laughed at Smith, he pulled the toddler’s nappy down and smacked him on the bottom, with an open hand. The boy started throwing his toys around the room again and Smith spoke to him about mistreating his toys. The child’s response again upset Smith and he smacked him on the bottom again, leaving vivid red hand marks on his bottom which were still visible several days later, along with minor bruising. In explanation, Smith said he was upset by the boy’s lack of respect for his mother and his toys. He said he was also upset he had hit the boy as hard as he had and did not mean to. Defence lawyer Peter Stevens, on behalf of lawyer Frank Minehan, said Smith was attending a parenting programme and would be starting relationship counselling. Smith has no previous convictions for violent offending. The judge said Smith needed to “understand the law is quite clear that children cannot be subjected to this type of assault”. “It’s clear that this little boy did get a real beating from you on this occasion and this must not happen again.”