A father found guilty of two counts of wounding and cruelty to a child was sentenced recently to 18 months’ imprisonment.
The charges related to two separate incidents when the defendant’s son was between the ages of seven and nine.
On the first occasion the man hit him on the head with a piece of wood. On the second occasion he hit him on the arm with a machete.
In both incidents the boy was cut and the man sewed the cuts himself with needle and thread instead of taking him to a hospital for the treatment he required. These acts led to the charges for cruelty to a child – wilfully ill-treating him by suturing his head and arm without medical assistance.
The matters came to the attention of authorities more than a year later, when the boy jumped from the roof of a house in order to escape from his father, who was shouting at him. The boy injured his foot, but made his way to a neighbor’s house and someone there called police.
That incident led to a charge of using threatening and abusive behavior with intent to cause the boy to believe that immediate unlawful violence would be used against him.
Defense attorney Steve McField told the court that the man loved his son, was very contrite, and could still be a good father if the court would give him a chance. Having pleaded not guilty, he now accepted that what he did was not right. The two incidents had occurred out of frustration because the man wanted “a perfect boy.”
Mr. McField pointed out that the man had no previous convictions; he produced several references attesting to the defendant’s character and charitable work in the community.
Justice Michael Mettyear said the evidence in the case revealed a sad and, in some ways, tragic story. The man had married and settled down in Cayman. He subsequently acknowledged the boy as his son from a previous relationship, and his wife agreed that he should bring the boy into their home.
“I have no reason the think that, at that early stage, you had any motive other than to provide for your son and do well by him,” Justice Mettyear told the defendant. “Indeed, he was provided with a bedroom and bathroom in a house he regarded as a mansion. You educated, clothed and fed him. The problem was that you seemed to have had unrealistically high expectations of him.”
When the man found fault with the boy, his expectations led to frustration and impatience that turned to anger and violence, the judge continued. The boy’s love and affection turned to apprehension and fear.
Justice Mettyear noted that he did not have any medical evidence as to the seriousness of the boy’s wounds. The father had thought suturing was required, but he was untrained and it was not clear he was correct. Crown Counsel Alex Upton provided photographs of the boy’s head and arm during the trial. There was no suggestion that he had been left with any permanent injury.
In all the circumstances, the judge categorized the injuries as significant but not serious. An aggravating factor both times was the use of a weapon.
The judge said he had thought that the minimum sentence he could pass would be two years, but the fact that the man finally admitted his fault in the matter meant there was room for mercy. He accepted the father’s contrition and said the change of heart gave him hope for any chance of reconciliation between the defendant and his son.
The two sentences for wounding were 18 months each; six months for each charge of cruelty, and nine months for the count of threatening behavior. All are to be served concurrently.
The man’s wife had been charged with one count of cruelty to a child, but the jury found her not guilty. The charges first came before the court in June, 2014.