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North-east dad in court after smacking daughter, 6

Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

A father has been handed unpaid work after smacking his six-year-old daughter so hard he left bruises – because she wouldn’t go to bed.

The offence happened before the change in the law which banned smacking, but Sheriff Graham Buchanan said the man’s actions went “considerably over the score”.

The male, 36, who is not being named to avoid identifying the child, pled guilty to a charge of assault to injury over the incident, which happened on May 22.

Fiscal depute Lynzi Souter told Aberdeen Sheriff Court the child had been dropped to stay with her father at his address in Aberdeenshire for the weekend.

She said: “At some point in the evening the accused put the child to bed.

“The child stated that she had asked the accused for a cuddle and for no apparent reason he had then smacked her really hard to her buttocks approximately five times.

“The child then states the accused asked if it had hurt. She said yes and his response was ‘good’.”

In the morning the child’s mother, who had been informed about what happened by the man, contacted him and said it would be better if their daughter stayed with her “until the bedtime situation was sorted out”.

Later the mother noticed the six-year-old’s buttocks were “deeply bruised” and contacted the police.

The child was taken to Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.

Defence agent Kevin Longino told the court his client’s daughter “continually got up and refused to go back to bed” and that he had “tried everything” to make her behave.

He added: “There’s obviously a change in societal norms and expectations since I was a child.”

The solicitor said people on his client’s side of the family had also been known to “bruise easily”.

He added his client was “shocked” when he saw photos of the bruising.

Sheriff Buchanan said: “It’s the sort of chastisement that nowadays is not regarded as acceptable.

“If you’re saying that it’s something he did as a form of, albeit unacceptable, chastisement, that would make the matter less serious than a situation where a parent beat a child in circumstances where there was an element of plain nastiness involved.

“What he did went over the score. It was excessive chastisement.”

The crown accepted the incident had occurred in the context of the child misbehaving.

Sheriff Buchanan, addressing the man directly, said: “This is a difficult and anxious case, but fortunately we were able to get to a point where the crown and defence were agreed your behaviour here was something which occurred as an act of chastisement.

“It plainly was not reasonable chastisement.

“The law has now changed and any striking of any kind by a parent on a child is illegal, is a criminal offence.

“At the time you committed this crime the law was different but it’s plain what you did went considerably over the score and resulted in significant bruising to your daughter’s body.

“I have concluded this is not a case I’d be justified imposing a custodial sentence in and instead I’m going to impose a community payback order.”

The sheriff ordered the man to be supervised for 12 months and to carry out 90 hours of unpaid work.

Following the case, a spokesman for the Be Reasonable campaign, which led the opposition to the new smacking ban law, said: “It has long been the case that causing a child any bruising or lasting reddening of the skin goes beyond the defence of reasonable chastisement and rightly constitutes an assault, as this case demonstrates.

“But the new smacking law means a parent who lightly taps their child on the back of the hand, leaving no marks whatsoever, faces being dealt with by the justice system in the same way as a parent who assaults their child like the man in this case did.

“Innocent parents, who have caused their children no harm whatsoever, will be treated as child abusers. That is unreasonable and unjust.”

Meanwhile, Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st said: “Sadly, this case underlines the harm that physical punishment can do to children’s physical and emotional health.

“It also shows why it was so important for the Scottish Government to change the law to establish that children should have the same right to protection from assault as adults.

“Studies from around the world show that physical punishment doesn’t work and there are many better ways to manage children’s behaviour.

“Our Children 1st Parentline service offers practical and emotional support to any family in Scotland who are facing challenges – call free on 08000 28 22 33 or visit

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.