A man allegedly beat a four-year-old boy and put his head down a toilet as part of a campaign of child cruelty, the High Court heard today.
He is accused of hurting the youngster and also subjecting his five-year-old brother to bouts of violence at their home in Ballymena, Co Antrim.
The 31-year-old defendant, who was in a relationship with the two boys' mother, is not being named to protect their identities.
He denies two charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a further two counts of child cruelty.
The authorities launched an investigation last October after a witness said she noticed significant bruising on the younger boy's ear.
Police were then informed about an alleged incident on September 30 when the mother heard her partner screaming at the child in their bathroom, prosecutors said.
It was claimed that she went to investigate and found her son with his trousers down, red marks to his bottom and legs and saying that he had been smacked.
Hospital examinations confirmed the little boy had sustained bruising to his head and body.
A Crown lawyer submitted they were blunt force trauma injuries caused by physical abuse, including being struck repeatedly.
During interviews the four-year-old claimed his mother's partner "hurt him when he did bad things" by punching him on the back of the head and spinning him around.
"He also said (the accused) put his head down the toilet and put him up in the sky with one hand," counsel added.
The boy's five-year-old brother told police he had been beaten too.
According to his account the defendant punched, kicked and threatened to slap him if he didn't do stuff for him.
Investigations are continuing, based on photographs of other suspected injuries and further disclosures by the two children, who have now been put into foster care.
Opposing the accused's application for bail, the prosecution argued that he still knows where they go to school.
Defence barrister Turlough Madden insisted: "The applicant maintains his innocence."
He argued that an exclusion zone could be imposed to ensure his client stays away from the boys' primary school.
But adjourning the bail application, Lord Justice McCloskey requested further checks on proposed sureties.