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Supervision for Whangārei father who hit daughter’s head against cupboard door repeatedly

A judge hopes supervision will help improve a man’s parenting skills and has urged him to work more cooperatively with his wife...

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A judge hopes supervision will help improve a man’s parenting skills and has urged him to work more cooperatively with his wife in order to re-establish boundaries for their daughter. Photo / NAD

Struggling to parent his 11-year-old daughter and infuriated when she refused to go to bed, a man grabbed her by the shoulders and repeatedly banged her head against a cupboard door.

Things reached “a fever pitch” that night; the man “just simply lost it”, Judge Deidre Orchard said when sentencing him in Whangārei District Court this week.

But having heard the evidence in the case at an earlier judge-alone trial, she accepted the man was tired and overwrought. He had fortunately retained enough control not to pound the girl’s head into the door full force.

Happily, the girl did not suffer any serious consequence though she had a headache the next day and was “obviously stressed by it all”, the judge said.

The man also rubbed blood onto his daughter’s face from a cut on his finger but that was much less serious than the rest of the offence, the judge said.

The man cannot be named for legal reasons but was found guilty earlier this year of a single count of assaulting a child – an offence punishable by up to two years in jail.

Judge Orchard said all violence against children was serious but this was not a case that warranted imprisonment. She accepted supervision was a suitable outcome, as agreed by Crown prosecutor Ella Stolwerk and counsel Todd Luders.

But there also needed to be a punitive aspect to the sentence, the judge said, adding 40 hours of community work.

The supervision was to include counselling as directed by the Probation Service, particularly a parenting course, which was clearly necessary, the judge said.

She noted the man was a good provider for his wife and their only daughter but said she formed the impression the man regarded himself as the superior parent and lacked respect for his wife’s parenting ability.

Tension over that issue meant there were no clear boundaries set by the couple for their daughter who seemed to be ruling the roost. A prime example of that was the girl’s resistance to going to bed on the night of the incident. The girl had been able to get away with doing what she wanted when she wanted, which ultimately led to this conflict, the judge said.

Whether they were living together or apart, the couple needed to cooperate as parents and apply a coordinated approach to parenting to ensure their daughter did not play one of them off against the other, Judge Orchard said.

She hoped the sentence of supervision would help the man gain some useful parenting skills.

Luders said his client had already made a start on appropriate counselling. Court orders currently prevented the man from visiting his daughter, but he hoped to re-establish more contact once his case had ended.

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