A MAN who slapped his two year old daughter in a Cork shopping centre, prompting two concerned female shoppers to immediately alert gardaí, was fined €700.
The 46-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found by Cork District Court’s Judge Olann Kelleher to have slapped the child as she struggled to get out of a shopping trolley.
However, the man – who is not Irish – was described in court as being a devoted father and husband.
He has no previous convictions.
A medical report sought on the child, who was two years and ten months old at the time of the 2017 incident, subsequently found no injuries whatsoever.
The court was told the man had moved to Ireland with his family so that his little girl could grow up learning English.
He was described as hard working and a good provider for his family.
He had at all times denied slapping his daughter.
Judge Kelleher said he found the facts proven against the man.
“The extent of the slapping amounted to assault,” he said.
“It is fair to say that he has not co-operated fully with the Probation and Welfare Service (PWS).”
The judge noted that the PWS said they felt they no longer had a role to play in the matter.
Tusla had been liaising with the man’s family since the incident was brought before the courts.
Judge Kelleher imposed a fine of €350 on each of the two charges.
He allowed the man four months to pay.
The defendant had appeared before Cork District Court on a charge of assaulting his daughter at a Cork shopping centre on July 23 2017.
Judge Kelleher previously said that, while he found the facts proven against the man in respect of the assault matter, he wanted to consider alternatives to recording a conviction.
“This is a very, very sad case,” he said.
The judge noted that, having seen the incident, the two female shoppers were so concerned for the safety of the child they contacted Gardaí.
The defendant, who is not Irish, did not address the court.
However, on a previous court sitting he became very emotional.
“Our kid is suffering and no-one cares,” he said.
“Where is the heart? I want my family safe. My family is not safe. My family is suffering. My kid is suffering…what do I have to do,” he asked?
The man’s wife also became extremely distraught during the previous court hearing.
A female witness told the court she was near a Cork shopping centre on July 23 2017.
The woman said her attention was drawn to the high-pitched sound of a child crying.
She saw a man struggling with a young child by a shopping trolley.
He was trying to get the child’s legs into the shopping trolley seat.
“She was trying to get her legs out. But he was trying to get them back in,” the woman said.
The woman noticed that the child was still crying and screaming as the man proceeded to do some shopping in the centre.
Later, she came across the pair back in the car park.
She said she saw the man standing by the rear of his car and swinging his hands into the back of the car.
The woman said she heard the child crying and noted that her voice was getting higher and louder in apparent distress.
A second woman at the complex said she also saw the man swinging his hands into the rear of the car – and heard a child crying.
The woman said, as she passed, she heard the man shouting in a loud voice: “Have you enough, now.”
The female shopper said she was convinced the man had been slapping the child in the rear of the car.
Both women were very upset about the incident.
Neither said they actually witnessed the child being struck but were convinced about what had just happened.
One said she was worried for the welfare of the child.
The quick-thinking woman discreetly took a photo on her smartphone of the car complete with its registration and contacted Togher Garda Station.
Garda Brian O’Connell told Judge Kelleher he identified the vehicle and its owner from the photograph.
Garda O’Connell went to the car owner’s address and brought the witness testimony to his attention.
The car owner said he couldn’t recall if he had been in that shopping centre three days earlier.
However, he vehemently rejected any suggestion of having struck or hurt his daughter.
CCTV footage obtained from the shopping centre did not show the man striking his child.
The man offered sworn evidence in which he denied ever hitting or slapping his daughter.
The man said his family prefer to discipline their children by using the removal of toys or treats in cases of misbehaviour.
He told the court he believed the two women exaggerated or misunderstood what they had seen.
“I have never resorted to violence, I have never hit my child and I never will,” he insisted.
A doctor’s report provided by the man and his family indicated the child was uninjured when examined days after the incident.
Judge Kelleher said he had no doubt from the man’s evidence that he was a good parent.
He described it as a very sad case but said the evidence of the two independent witnesses was both compelling and credible.