Louis Andrews August 11, 2012
A Canberra mum has been cleared of blowing cannabis smoke into her young daughter's mouth, despite a magistrate saying it was ''likely'' the incident occurred.
But the woman has been convicted and placed on a good-behaviour order for assaulting the then-five-year-old by dragging her across a bed by her hair.
The mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her child, was acquitted yesterday of two counts of common assault and one of abusing or ill-treating a child.
Magistrate David Mossop yesterday said it was ''likely'' the woman blew cannabis smoke into her daughter's mouth and slapped her in the face in February last year. But he said he could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt about what happened, and dismissed the abuse charge and two assault allegations.
However, he was satisfied the 30-year-old mother assaulted her daughter in August last year.
The ACT Magistrates Court heard the woman pulled the child across the bed by her hair, saying ''the little c--t needs to learn not to sleep on my side''.
A witness who was living in the house at the time said she saw the incident - and the spot on the girl's head where a chunk of hair had been torn out.
Six months later, on the girl's sixth birthday, it was alleged the mother struck her child across the face.
On the same occasion it was alleged the woman puffed cannabis smoke into the girl's mouth, causing her to cough repeatedly.
Two witnesses gave evidence about those incidents, and Mr Mossop said their testimony was consistent with there having been ''a slap to the face and the puffing of cannabis''. But he said significant discrepancies between the two versions of evidence meant he could not be satisfied about what occurred.
He found her not guilty of assault and child abuse.
Another assault charge was dismissed after the prosecution conceded the evidence failed to establish the offence.
The woman's lawyer said his client had no criminal history. He urged the magistrate to impose a good-behaviour order with conditions, giving her the chance to rehabilitate herself in the community.
And the prosecution agreed the woman could well benefit from supervision and initiatives like Corrective Services cognitive self-change program.
Mr Mossop said: ''Obviously the importance of denunciation of such conduct needs to be balanced against the long-term interests of the community in having a person who has committed such an offence rehabilitated.''
He convicted the woman and placed her on a good-behaviour order for 14 months, directing her to undergo counselling and programs deemed suitable by corrections authorities.
Mr Mossop made particular reference to programs addressing parenting skills, anger management, and drug and alcohol use.