Natasha Rudra May 22, 2012
The ACT Supreme Court had reduced the sentence of a man who called his 15-year-old daughter a “dog c----” and slapped her so hard he knocked over a highchair with his three-year-old child in it.
The man appealed against his 11-month jail term arguing, among other things, that the sentencing magistrate was biased because she disapproved of his parenting skills and the fact he had “children with too many different women”.
He hit his teenage daughter repeatedly over two days in May 2011, telling her he would “smash your f---ing head in’’ and asking if she wanted another slap.
He also told authorities he hit his daughter “to prevent her violent behaviour” and claimed she was using the drug “ice”.
At the time of the offence the man was already on a good-behaviour order for a previous assault the year before, when he “took exception to the actions of [a man] who was using a bobcat” in a neighbouring garden and punched him to the ground.
He pleaded guilty to charges of common assault after going to his ex-partner’s house to look for his teenage daughter, who was visiting from Queensland.
He demanded, “Is that dog c--- here?” and then slapped the girl so hard she fell over the couch and continued slapping her so he knocked over a highchair with his other three-year-old child in it.
The three-year-old fell and hit her head.
The father returned the next day and again hit his daughter, causing her to flee the house and vomit.
Now-retired Magistrate Maria Doogan sentenced him to a total of 11 months’ jail, ordering him to serve eight months in prison and suspending the remaining three months.
His legal team appealed the sentence, arguing Ms Doogan failed to take into account his plea of guilty, refused to allow evidence from a police witness, and failed to consider the impact of jail on his family.
It was also argued Ms Doogan appeared prejudiced against the man after she made sarcastic comments about his claim to love all seven of his children dearly.
In her judgement, Supreme Court Justice Hilary Penfold said the magistrate’s comments suggested a poor opinion of the defendant but did not amount to anything inappropriate.
“I see nothing… that suggests that Her Honour was distracted from her task by her views about [the man’s] relationships or that she in any way sentenced [him] for having multiple relationships or for having children with too many different women,” she wrote.
But Justice Penfold found the magistrate had handed down an excessive sentence.
She reduced the sentence to a total of nine months’ jail, suspended from August, and imposed a two-year good-behaviour order.