Deferred sentence for father

A South Otago man appeared before Judge Stephen O'Driscoll in the Balclutha District Court on Tuesday for sentencing on a charge of assaulting a child aged 9 or 10.

Police said on an unknown day between April 1 and 30 last year, the man took his daughter aside to discipline her. He struck her about the face and body with a tea towel, and pushed her around the kitchen over a 10-minute to 15-minute period.

Judge O'Driscoll found the man guilty of assaulting a child aged 9 or 10, and deferred his sentence for 12 months.

At a defended hearing in October, the victim's older sister told the court her sister was acting silly and misbehaving when the assault happened.

''He got a tea towel from the oven and whacked her with it. He hit her in the head, the back and then her bottom.''

She said her father then pushed her sister against an oven, yelling that she had the devil inside her.

She said her sister had marks on her face the next day that were not there before her sister went into the kitchen with their father.

In his reserved judgement, Judge O'Driscoll said the man held on to the tea towel while he struck out at his daughter. He said the man pushed her, causing her head to hit the oven and he held her head down on the element on the range.

The judge said there was nothing to suggest the man had to use force to protect either himself or his other children. He also found the man was not acting to discipline his daughter, and was attempting to show her that he was in control, acting in a way and with such force that it was unreasonable in the circumstances.

Counsel Tina Williams said the man was extremely remorseful and had undertaken counselling at his own cost.

Ms Williams sought, and was granted, final name suppression for the man citing the need to protect the victim and the family.

Judge O'Driscoll said the victim had forgiven her father.

''The use of force against children is not appropriate, and I find you were not, at that particular stage, in the narrow confines that the law now allows.

''I hope you know and understand you cannot use force like you did on that day.''