Couple guilty of assaulting their children

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A Bellshill couple have been convicted of assaulting their young children who claimed they were smacked for not getting good enough grades at school.

The mum and dad, who are in their 30s, were found guilty after a three-day trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

There are plans before the Scottish Government to make smacking illegal, but at present parents can claim the defence of justifiable assault and prosecutions are rare.

However, Sheriff Shiona Waldron ruled in the current case the parents, who cannot be named in order to protect the identify of their children, went too far.

They were convicted of assaulting the two primary school age children by smacking them at their Bellshill home on various occasions in January and February this year.

The court heard the boy and girl were sent to their bedroom and ordered to take off their clothes before being smacked.

The children gave evidence to the court via video link – the boy said his mum held him down while his dad smacked him. He said he struggled to breathe and begged his dad not to hit him.

He and his sister said they were punished because they didn’t get top marks in their weekly school reports.

Their dad denied that was the case. He admitted smacking the children “for a variety of reasons”, but insisted it wasn’t for “below average grades”.

He also denied that on one occasion he smacked his daughter so hard his ring cut her. This was impossible, he said, as he is right-handed and his only ring is on his left hand.

Prosecutor Gillian Bradshaw told the dad: “You punished your daughter for getting a ‘satisfactory’ mark in her school diary, a mark that her teacher says is there just to encourage her to work a little bit harder. She is a lovable girl who is well thought of by her teacher.”

The dad insisted he had not smacked the children because their marks disappointed him, but admitted that on occasions he had sent his daughter to her room without dinner for not doing her homework.

After the verdicts Sheriff Waldron called for background reports and deferred sentence on the couple until next month. The sheriff also referred the case to the Children’s Reporter.