'Grounded' Northern Ireland teen could not eat or wash, court hears
A 40-year-old Co Antrim man whose teenager daughter didn't eat or wash properly when she was grounded in his flat was told his parental behaviour was "disgraceful".
The man, who cannot be named to protect his daughter's identify, subjected the 14-year old girl to a "barrage" of verbal abuse which left her "intimidated and frightened".
Belfast Crown Court heard that due to a previous incident, the father decided to ground his daughter. During this period last March, the girl had her mobile phone taken off her, she remained in her bedroom and was "not allowed to leave the flat or go into the living room" under her father's orders.
The father, who pleaded guilty to a charge of cruelty to a child by willfully mistreating her in a manner likely to cause her unnecessary suffering over a period from March 5 to 10, 2014, accepted that during this period of grounding, he was responsible for ensuring his daughter ate and washed properly, which he failed to do.
Prosecuting barrister Amanda Brady said that during the period in question last March, the man subjected his daughter to "various forms of ill-treatment" including verbal abuse which left her "intimidated and frightened".
The court heard that when the girl was removed from her father's flat by another relative, she was able to eat and wash before being taken to her mother. A defence barrister said his client's plea to a charge of child cruelty had spared his daughter the "trauma" of having to come to court to give evidence. Regarding the incident, the barrister said that at the time his client "thought the discipline he was exerting was reasonable and proportionate, but he now realises it wasn't".
The barrister revealed that since the incident, his client has been taking steps to address issues he has which stemmed from his own childhood.
Passing sentence, Judge Patricia Smyth told him: "Your behaviour as a parent was disgraceful, and the fact that your behaviour left your daughter feeling intimidated and frightened should make you truly ashamed."
The judge said that she was aware the teenage victim was "happy and confident since she went back to her mother".
After hearing about the steps he has taken to address his issues, the judge said she acknowledged he had "suffered a great deal" as a result of his actions - but told him "your behaviour was wrong".
Saying that she felt both he and ultimately his children would benefit from assistance being offered, the judge placed the man on probation for two years - and spoke of the hope of "an opportunity for rehabilitation between parent and child".