Father acquitted in pipe beating
New Zealand Herald, November 4, 2001

A jury in Hamilton has decided a father who struck his 12-year-old daughter with a hosepipe was within his rights.

Ngaruawahia invalid beneficiary Tony Bulley is claiming victory for parental rights after the Hamilton District Court jury found him not guilty of assault with a weapon.

He admitted hitting the girl with a length of pipe after she interrupted and swore at him on May 5, but said parents had the right to discipline their children.

Police photos taken the next day showed a raised 15cm lump with red edges on the girl's back.

The jury took one hour to reach its verdict.

The acquittal came under section 59 of the Crimes Act, which gives parents the right to use force to correct children if it is "reasonable under the circumstances".

The child's age and the nature of the offence must be taken into account.

Commissioner for Children Roger McClay is among those pressing for the section to be repealed.

"The jury is saying what he did was within the law," Mr McClay said. "I think the law is wrong."

He said children should receive the same protection under the law as adults.

"If he had hit his wife in the same way, it undoubtedly would have been an assault," Mr McClay said.

"We don't allow for a little bit of rape, but we do allow a little bit of violence - with children, mind you."

Mr Bulley's wife, Asenati Rowell, told the court that, as a Western Samoan, she believed in corporal punishment.

As the main disciplinarian of the family, she kept two lengths of hosepipe on nails by the kitchen.

"It's just for scaring my kids - that's all I've been using it for," she told the court.

On the night of the incident, the couple's 15-year-old daughter was being reprimanded when the 12-year-old interrupted.

A family friend reported the incident to police on the girl's behalf.

Mr Bulley said outside the court that he regretted using the hose and that it was an impulsive decision.

He thanked the jury for its verdict.

"I think it proves that the public supports parents' rights to discipline their children."

Return to this Newsroom date
Select other Newsroom date range
Go to Project NoSpank Table of Contents