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Father jailed for slapping Primary 3 daughter’s ‘bully’

SINGAPORE — Criticising a parent for his “wholly inexcusable” act of slapping his daughter’s Primary 3 classmate, a High Court judge on Wednesday (July 19) allowed the prosecution’s appeal against an earlier fine, and imposed a two-week jail term on the man instead.

TODAY file photo

TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE Criticising a parent for his  “wholly inexcusable” act of slapping his daughter’s Primary 3 classmate, a High Court judge on Wednesday (July 19) allowed the prosecution’s appeal against an earlier fine, and imposed a two-week jail term on the man instead.

The 47-year-old man was previously fined S$3,500 by a district judge for one count of causing hurt after he slapped a nine-year-old boy who had allegedly bullied his daughter.

Another charge of criminally trespassing on the school premises was taken into consideration for sentencing. The man cannot be named to protect the identities of the children.

According to court papers, on the morning of Oct 7, 2015, the man’s daughter had initially refused to go to school because a classmate liked to “disturb” her.

When father and daughter reached the school later, he was allowed into its compound after telling the security guard that he wanted to see the school principal.

However, instead of doing so, he took his daughter to her classroom and interrupted an ongoing music lesson.

He then confronted the boy who had allegedly bullied his daughter.

When the boy denied the bullying claims, the man slapped the child on his left cheek and continued to hurl accusations at him.

When the teacher tried to stop the father and instructed another student to seek help from other teachers, the man stopped the student from leaving. He told the class of 40 students “not to bully others and not to behave like gangsters”, before leaving the classroom.

The assault left finger marks on the boy’s cheek.

Delivering his decision on Wednesday, Justice See Kee Oon said a fine did not sufficiently address the need for deterrence and “speaks inadequately to the harm caused” to the child.

“The (man’s) show of force was wholly inexcusable,” he said.

While the boy did not suffer very serious physical injuries, the visible redness and finger marks left on his cheek should not be trivalised as a “slight” injury.

“The victim cried and was so fearful, humiliated and traumatised that he wet his pants,” said the judge.

He also singled out the man’s “deplorable violation of the sanctity of the school environment and the distress and disquiet caused to the children and their teacher”.

“The respondent then self-righteously justified his conduct by, ironically, ‘lecturing’ the entire class of impressionable young children that it was wrong to bully others or to behave like gangsters.”

Disagreeing with the district judge that the offence was not premeditated, Justice See said the man’s conduct was not exactly “uncharacteristic”, given his previous conviction for causing grievous hurt by dangerous means in 1999. He was sentenced to 12 months’ jail and given six strokes of the cane for that offence.

The judge also dismissed the man’s claims of remorse, noting that his email apology to the school and victim, as well as an offer of compensation, came about 15 months after the incident.

“Quite clearly, the respondent’s efforts were self-serving and insincere, put forward primarily (if not solely) in the hope of earning himself credit for a lighter sentence.”

On the district judge’s views that the man was “trying to protect (his daughter), albeit in the wrong way”, Justice See said this cannot be a relevant mitigating factor when the “protection” took the form of striking a vulnerable and defenceless nine-year-old child.

The man also attempted to downplay his culpability by claiming to have slapped the boy “a little bit”, and blamed the visible signs of injury on the victim’s “sensitive skin”.

“This amply demonstrated his lack of genuine remorse,” the judge said.

The man’s fine will be refunded.

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