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Domestic CP - May 2005

Corpun file 15872


The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, 27 May 2005

Jury clears mother over 'six of the best'

A mother who admitted hitting her son with a horse whip and a bamboo cane based on her Christian beliefs has been found not guilty of assaulting the boy.

The 39-year-old, who received final name suppression, was on trial in the Timaru District Court before a jury on two charges of assaulting her son, then aged under 14.

It took the jury one hour and 10 minutes yesterday to reach a decision.

The woman admitted giving her son "six of the best" with a cane for misbehaving at school, and striking him three to four times with a horse whip after an incident in which the boy waved a baseball bat at her partner.

The jury heard yesterday from the deputy principal of the boy's school, who told the court of the woman's angry demeanour when told her son had damaged a toilet door.

The school had arranged punishment, which included writing out the school rules and litter duty, but the boy was not willing to obey.

The deputy principal intended to keep the boy back after school with the mother's permission. But instead she took him home, where she struck him six times with a cane rod before returning him to school.

The boy had a mark on his leg and was crying.

The deputy principal described the boy as difficult to control in class and said the school had a management plan in place to help his behaviour.

When the boy was returned to school after the caning, he was more willing to get on with his punishment, said the witness.

Crown Solicitor Tim Gresson said the issue for the jury was whether the incidents were by way of correction or punishment, and whether the use of a cane or a crop was reasonable.

Under section 59 of the Crimes Act, a parent is justified in using force by way of correction if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

Although it was clear the boy had problems, Mr Gresson questioned whether subjecting him to ongoing corporal punishment was appropriate.

"She said that in spite of her discipline he would continue to cuddle her and that her disciplining was done with love, implying it was all part of normal maternal behaviour," he said of the accused's conversation with Detective Sergeant Michael Ryder.

But she told a social worker the boy was "a little arsehole".

Mr Gresson asked jurors to put aside their own views on the correction of children and that stated in the Bible and the Christian faith which the accused adhered to.

Defence counsel Mike Radford said the force used was reasonable, the boy was clearly destructive and the school did not have the boy's punishment under control. - NZPA

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