We were gobsmacked when we read this story in the Dom-Post this morning; check this out:
A teenage father has been sentenced to a year's home detention for repeated assaults on his infant daughter that resulted in her legs being broken in five places.The girl's mother told the court how her partner, James Hall, had always been willing to care for their daughter and she was shocked to find that he had been badly injuring her when alone with her.Hall, now 20, was sentenced in the High Court at Napier yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to injure and a representative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with careless disregard.The victim was his daughter, who was just four months old when admitted to hospital with injuries in March last year.Staff found her left and right femurs were both broken, and there was an older break to her left tibia.According to the police summary, Hall admitted that when alone with his daughter he "grabbed her left foot, pushed it back up so it was bending her whole left leg up behind the baby's back".He said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he just was not thinking. "He stated that once or twice he meant to hurt her by bending her leg back in blind anger - not realising what he was actually doing," the summary said.He also said he squeezed her firmly against his chest three or four times.The Crown sought a starting point of four years' jail. Hall's lawyer, Scott Jefferson, sought a starting point of 2 years.Justice Mary Peters started at three years and three months. She reduced that for Hall's youth and his early acknowledgement of guilt, and arrived at 12 months' home detention. She also barred him from being with children under 10.In imposing her sentence, Justice Peters said: "Home detention is not a soft option."She did not impose community work on top of home detention as she felt it better that Hall complete his apprenticeship as a painter and decorator, so he could provide for his daughter financially.
We reckon that Justice Mary Peters has erred greatly here. Even Hall's lawyer was expecting a prison term, but instead, his client will do his time at home.
We are sure that the Crown will appeal the brevity of the sentence, which sends out totally the wrong message about child abuse. Hall admitted his offending, acknowledged that was he was doing was wrong, and left a baby with serious injuries. A prison sentence ought to have been a given, but once again, the courts have failed the victims.