A man who hung a two-year-boy by his shirt from a hook nearly two-metres off the ground has pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault.
Seth Anthony Halfacre appeared in the Burnie Magistrates Court on Monday in relation to an incident at South Riana with his ex-partner’s son in January 2019.
The 23-year-old was charged with six counts of common assault and one count of emotional abuse or intimidation, but all except one of the charges of common assault was dropped by prosecution at the outset of proceedings.
I sat down with him and gave him a cuddle. I was worried I accidentally hurt him.
Police prosecutor Constable Renee Koehler told the court Halfacre hung the child from the hook and left him there until the shirt tore and the child fell.
That the child fell was disputed by defence lawyer Stephen Wright, and Constable Koehler immediately withdrew the assertion.
Magistrate Tamara Jago asked if the child was injured, and Constable Koehler said he was not.
In submissions to Ms Jago, Mr Wright said the boy was upset and that his client had hung him from the hook to “appease” him, but then took him down only moments later.
Mr Wright said Halfacre accepted it was a significant error in judgement and that the action was not malicious.
Mr Wright further said it was a relatively low-level criminal act and no conviction should be recorded, as that may impact upon Halfacre’s family court disputes regarding custody of his own five-year-old son.
However, Ms Jago did not then accept Mr Wright’s position that it was a low-level act and said Halfacre’s chosen method of disciplining a two-year-old is something of which the family court should be aware.
Mr Wright took issue with the act being referred to as disciplinary, and repeated Halfacre was attempting to “appease” the “grizzly” child.
Halfacre then gave his own evidence of the incident and said he was actually playing a game with the child, and hung from him the hook as part of that game.
He said the child quickly became upset when hung from the hook and he immediately removed him, realising it was “a bad judgement call”.
“I sat down with him and gave him a cuddle. I was worried I accidentally hurt him,” Halfacre said.
This version of events was not questioned by Constable Koehler, and Ms Jago agreed therefore that no conviction should be recorded.
She fined him $500 for what she said amounted to an “age-inappropriate game”.