Father slapped daughter several times in supermarket car park, court told
Witness took photo of man’s car and reported allegation to gardaí but child’s father said he ‘never resorted to violence’
The judge said he found the two independent witnesses to be credible and the facts proven but he was anxious to ensure the best for both the defendant and the child so he adjourned the case until January 25th for a probation report.
A judge has requested a probation report on a 46-year-old man after he found the facts proven against him in a case where he was prosecuted for assaulting his daughter (3) when he slapped her several times while putting her into his car at a Cork supermarket.
Judge Olann Kelleher said he found the facts proven against the man - who can’t be named to protect the identity of his daughter - but he was not proceeding to conviction on the Section 2 assault charge yet pending the receipt of a probation report on the defendant who has no previous convictions.
A witness told Cork District Court that she was shopping in Dunnes Stores in Bishopscourt Shopping Centre in Bishopstown, Cork on July 23rd 2017 when she heard a child crying in a high pitched voice and she noticed a man trying to push the child’s legs into a shopping trolley seat.
“She was trying to get her legs out and he was trying to get them back in,” said the woman adding that the child continued screaming in a high pitch voice as the man went around the shop and she again encountered them in the car park when the man was at his car.
She saw the man standing beside the open rear door of the car, swinging his hands into the car and while she couldn’t say with 100 per cent certainty what he was doing, she was quite sure he was not handling the child gently as the child was screaming and her voice was becoming more high-pitched.
Another woman told how she too noticed the man swinging his hands into the car and while she couldn’t see what he was hitting, she heard him shout three or four times “Have you enough now?” and she believed the child was being hit in the back seat of the car.
She was deeply upset and unsure what do as she feared for the child’s safety if she confronted the man and she had no idea how he might react or what he might do so she took a photograph of his car registration and drove to Togher Garda Station where she reported the matter to gardaí.
Garda Brian O’Connell said he traced the car registration and called to the man’s house three days later. The man said he didn’t remember if he had been in the shopping centre on July 23rd but he strongly denied ever hitting or harming his daughter.
Garda O’Connell said he obtained CCTV footage from the shopping centre and invited the man to Bishopstown Garda Station where he again cautioned him and took a memo of interview but the man and his wife left when he told them that the CCTV footage did not show him striking his daughter.
The man, who represented himself, entered the witness box to deny the charge and said he never hit or struck his daughter as he believed if she was subjected to violence, then she would use it as a means to get what she wanted and he used other deterrents such as removing her toys to get her to do what she was told.
He said that English was not his first language and he would never have said to the child “Have you enough now” as one of the witnesses had alleged and while they may have seen and heard the child screaming, he did not hit her and he believed that they were exaggerating what they had seen.
“I have never resorted to violence, I have never hit my kid and I never will,” said the man who produced a report from a GP which stated that the child had no injuries when she was examined just days after the alleged incident in the car park.
Judge Kelleher said it was a very sad case and he had no doubt the man was a good father most of the time but he found it incredible that the man could not remember if he was at Dunnes Stores on July 23rd when he was interviewed about it by Garda O’Connell just three days later.
He said he found the two independent witnesses to be credible and the facts proven but he was anxious to ensure the best for both the defendant and the child so he adjourned it until January 25th for a probation report when he will finalise the case which, he heard, has already been referred to Tusla.