A FATHER was barred from his own home and hauled before a court after he was spotted giving his young son a smack during a shopping trip.
The 31-year-old pleaded guilty at Manchester City Magistrates Court yesterday to common assault after he was seen by a policeman giving a single smack to the bottom of his three-year-old son in a shop.
His case took six months to come to trial - in that time the man had bail conditions imposed on him by the police which meant he could not live at his family home with his partner and their two children, including his new-born baby girl.
Under the bail terms, the dad could also not have any unsupervised contact with the son that he had smacked. And for several months he was not even allowed phone contact with him.
Magistrates in the case - which comes weeks after a bid by rebel MPs to outlaw smacking completely was defeated in Parliament - accepted his guilty plea and placed him on a two-year rehabilitation order.
After the trial the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spoke of his ordeal.
He said: "My partner has had to look after our son and bring up our baby girl on her own because I have not been allowed to be around.
"I feel I have been very unlucky and I do not feel that I have been dealt with fairly.
"This has been a punishing six months. But it has not just been punishing for me, it has been punishing for my partner and my children."
The father has suffered a double blow as he has been unable to continue his career while the case has been progressing through the courts.
He added: "I wanted to do the best for children and help them. But all that has been thrown up in the air because I smacked my child."
Magistrates heard that the father was out with his partner and their son and baby daughter last June when the incident happened.
The son was misbehaving, the father smacked him and was seen by a police detective.
Don Fletcher, prosecuting, said: "The policeman went to speak to the defendant and a security guard also saw the defendant lash out with his right hand and strike the small boy on his bottom."
The court heard that the incident outside a store drew attention from other shoppers as the boy was screaming and was lifted into the air by the force of the smack.
But Sara Lewis, defending, said the boy had been behaving particularly badly.
He had run out in front of a car in the car park and both parents had been concerned that he was placing himself in danger.
Miss Lewis added: "At that point the defendant smacked his son. It is not disputed that it was a smack to the bottom with an open hand. The young boy had been playing up and both parents were at the end of their tether.
"But this is really a matter that is at the low end of the crime scale. A smack to the bottom with an open hand may be perfectly acceptable but in this case the force was a little too much. The father is very sorry and is keen to bring up the boy properly and does not want to see him get into trouble.
"He accepts the force was a little bit too much."
A bid last month by rebel MPs to impose a total ban on parents smacking their children was defeated in the House of Commons.
But parents could still face jail for excessive punishment under the Children's Bill, which allows `mild smacking' but outlaws punishment of a child which leaves visible bruises.
The Children's Bill removed the defence of 'reasonable chastisement' for causing actual bodily harm or cruelty.
Its measures are set to come into force early next year.
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