3 Jun 2012

Smacking conviction overturned on appeal

5:08 pm on 3 June 2012

A woman whose eight-year-old son was hit twice on the bottom with a belt on one occasion last year has had her conviction for assault quashed by the Court of Appeal.

The result is being welcomed by advocacy group Family First which says it shows how confused the 2007 child discipline legislation has proved to be.

During the incident the woman asked her partner to administer the punishment, which he did.

Both were convicted in the District Court and sentenced to community work. The partner was subsequently cleared on appeal to the High Court.

The woman has now been discharged by the Court of Appeal but has already served her sentence and lost her job.

The Court of Appeal says her penalties were out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending.

Family First director Bob McCroskie says the case involved an extremely difficult child for whom the mother had repeatedly sought help, but none was available.

He says there is a lack of support for parents who are struggling.

Mr McCroskie says the legislation is confused and needs to be precisely worded.