Man jailed for striking 2-year-old in face

A man who injured a 2-year-old girl by hitting her in the face has been jailed for 15 months and told by the judge the courts will not tolerate violence against children.

During sentencing in the Whangarei District Court yesterday Judge Russell Callender said the law was straightforward: "No one is to physically touch children at all."

And he didn't stop there.

"Not only must you be deterred but the message has to go out to the community that the courts will not tolerate violence against children in any way."

The court heard Eden Wetere, 22, of Ngaiotonga, had previously pleaded guilty to an amended charge of injuring with reckless disregard on the morning his jury trial was to begin in September.

Judge Callender said Wetere was drunk when he struck the child in the face. She suffered grazing to her eyelids and two black eyes. The child was taken to hospital but was checked and released.

"Offending like this against a young child has to be dealt with by a term of imprisonment. A community-based sentence doesn't send the right message out to a community plagued by such offending," Judge Callender said.

Lawyer Kelly Ellis said Wetere was a young man who had problems and it was important to put him on the right track sooner rather than later.

Ms Ellis said the relationship between Wetere and his partner had been troubled. However in this instance he realised he had "mucked up" and was remorseful.

The Crown, represented by Moana Jarman-Taylor, said jail was the only option in this case as while the girl had recovered from the injuries, she had been affected psychologically.

The charge carries a maximum five-year jail term.

"You were in the position of a father and you abused that position ... " the judge said.

Once the jail term was complete Wetere was ordered to undertake alcohol counselling, attend a basic work and living skills course and training course.

- Kristin Edge of The Northern Advocate

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