A father who spanked his three-year old daughter, making a red hand mark on her back and another mark on the outside of her knee, was on trial Tuesday for assault causing bodily harm.
The accused cannot be named due to a temporary ban placed on publication of his name by provincial court judge Stella Frame. That ban was placed to protect the identity of the child.
A hearing is set for Wednesday morning on arguments by both defence and prosecution that the ban on his identity should be made permanent. The Daily News will argue the case is an issue of high public interest and the ban should only extend to the child’s identity, not to that of the accused father.
The incident occurred in July last year, when the father was left alone with his daughter for the first time.
He told RCMP after he was arrested, “I think I had just slept for three hours.”
The man gave a voluntary statement to RCMP Const. Blair Wood, who was originally called to Royal Inland Hospital by a social worker. Seeing the marks, the girl’s mother took her to hospital on the urging of her grandmother.
The marks “were what appeared to me to be a hand print on her back — reddish colour — and on her left knee area,” Wood testified in court on questioning from prosecutor Katie Bouchard.
“It was also reddish-colour swelling.”
The grandmother, who took a number of photographs over a series of days, testified in cross-examination by defence lawyer Sheldon Tate that the marks were disappearing and hardly visible two days later.
There was no evidence the girl suffered permanent injury.
Tate is expected to make argument that the discipline was within the right of a parent.
Part of the morning was spent by the court listening to a video-recording of an interview between Const. Wood and the accused man at the RCMP detachment in Kamloops.
“I wanted to get your side of the story if you wanted to tell it,” Wood told the man.
The father willingly talked with police in a 45-minute interview. But due to his accent and many one-word answers, some of it could not be understood, even by the court transcription service. The Daily News obtained a copy of the transcript.
“I’ve never hit her before. Like . . . no I’ve never hit her before,” the accused father told the RCMP constable.
In the interview, he said the event happened after the girl woke him, asking for a diaper change. She then ran away and resisted his efforts.
In the interview with Wood, he called the spanking “discipline to make her better, OK…. I was going to hit her . . . hit her bum, right. I was changing a poopy diaper at the time.
“I wouldn’t even call it a spank. But I think that the . . . weight of the . . . the weight of the diaper normally . . . absorb . . . absorbs it.”
He also said she was kicking her legs during the diaper change and trying to wriggle away.
Wood asked him if that kind of discipline is acceptable in the country from where he originates.
“What would you expect for discipline for a child or if that’s excessive,” Wood asked. “Is that normal?”
“I can’t gauge if it’s normal . . . .” the accused man told the Mountie. “It depends on your upbringing . . . . I mean I guess there’s some . . . some parents that . . . that um hardly ever discipline their kids. They just hand ‘em over.”
The trial is set to continue Wednesday.