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Domestic CP - May 2004

Corpun file 13392

Townsville Bulletin, Queensland, 5 May 2004

Teen beaten over letters

By Malcolm Weatherup

AN enraged father beat his 15-year-old daughter with his trouser belt over sexually explicit letters, a Townsville District Court heard yesterday.

In a moment of fury that the court heard had been building due to truancy, smoking and other behaviour, the father:

•   Strapped his daughter about the legs, buttocks and back;

•   Continued to beat the girl when she fell to the floor; and

•   Hit his daughter about the head as he made her write down the names of friends who sent her the letters.

But the court also heard that two days after the incident, the man and his daughter both wept as the father spoke to the girl about the matter and she believed that was the end of it.

The Bluewater man, 39, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted he "had gone overboard" before pleading guilty to a charge of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed, when he appeared before Judge Manus Boyce.

Prosecutor Andrew Lowrie said that when the incident occurred, the daughter had only recently left her mother's home to live with her father and his de facto wife.

Mr Lowrie said when the girl arrived home from school on July 29 last year, her father's partner confronted her, calling the child "a slut" and demanding letters from the girl's school bag.

The letters, from female fellow students, were about sex and boys in general.

The court was told the discussion became heated, with the woman making a minor assault on the child.

When the father came home and was shown the letters he flew into a rage, took off his belt and began strapping her heavily on the legs, buttocks and back. He continued the beating when the girl fell to the floor.

The court heard he then made the girl sit at a table, squeezing her face and telling her to write the names of the friends who had written the letters so he could go to the school to take the matter further.

The father hit her about the head while she was writing the list.

The father ordered her not to go to school for the rest of the week, but when the girl returned to classes her facial injuries and bruising were noted by teachers and the matter was reported to the authorities.

Barrister Tony Collins, for the father, said the issue of the letters was not a sudden occurrence, but was tied in with truancy, smoking and other disturbing behaviour. These matters had been the subject of continual discussions in the family.

"He wanted the best for his daughter and was disappointed in her behaviour so he didn't just fly into a sudden rage, it built up over time," Mr Collins said.

He said the man had a strong sense of propriety and the letters he had discovered contained filthy, abusive language and graphic sexual descriptions.

Mr Collins argued that although his client accepted he had gone beyond what was acceptable, it was "a clash of cultures" at the root cause of the matter.

"(The father) was born in the western islands of Papua New Guinea to an indigenous mother and an Australian father, and he retains strong cultural ties to his birthplace," Mr Collins said.

"As a child and in his youth, he accepted that anyone who was disrespectful to their parents or disobedient were subject to stringent corporal punishment."

Mr Collins said that during police interviews, the man insisted it was a matter of discipline and several times asked for help and guidance in what were acceptable ways to discipline his daughter.

He said the girl had said in a statement: "Two days after (the beating), Dad talked to me and we both started crying -- I felt then that the matter was all over."

Judge Boyce told the man that what he had done was unacceptable.

"It went beyond responsible punishment," he said, and put the man on a $200 good behaviour bond for 12 months but did not record a conviction. The girl is living with her mother again.

The North Queensland Newspaper Company Pty Ltd

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