A County Armagh man accused of child cruelty and who had allegedly left a child “blind in one eye” in a previous relationship has been denied bail.
The 34-year-old, who cannot be named in order to protect the identities of the children, appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse.
He appeared via video-link from Maghaberry, charged with two counts of cruelty to persons under 16 years of age, with the first charge alleged to have occurred on June 14 and the second alleged to have occurred on a date between June 1 and June 15.
It was alleged that on June 15 , a 15-year-old boy disclosed to his teacher at school that he was “afraid to go home” as his mother’s boyfriend had been “assaulting” him, claiming that on the previous night, the defendant had “punched him multiple times to the head” .
He also mentioned another incident in which he was allegedly struck by the defendant with a brush, causing it to break.
The school subsequently initiated safeguarding protocols and the police were contacted.
The defendant was arrested after police spoke to the injured party and his 12-year-old sister, who both disclosed ongoing alleged domestic abuse in the house.
He was then charged to court where he was later remanded.
In an interview on June 16, the injured party described how he was sat down by the defendant and his mother, who asked him about why he was “down and depressed”.
He told the defendant that he was “sick of him threatening everybody in the house all the time”, which the defendant allegedly denied and became annoyed at.
Later that night, the court heard, the defendant spoke to the injured party again, during which he is accused of becoming angry and attacking the injured party, “punching him on the both sides of the head with his fists”.
After the incident, the boy was asked about how sore the event had been, to which he replied, “8 out of 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.”
The boy also described an incident when he was 14, when the defendant allegedly threw a plate at him after he did not finish his meal due to being full.
The court heard that the injured party was “consistently walking on a thin line” in the house and that “he would always get into trouble for the smallest of things and he would get assaulted frequently”.
The injured party’s 12-year-old sister said that she was afraid of the defendant and that he would leave what she described as the “Red Hand of Ulster” on her body, when he would allegedly smack her. He is also accused of frequently pulling her hair and calling her names.
The court heard that the mother of the boy had recently given a statement and is no longer in a relationship with the defendant, and had gone to Women’s Aid.
Objecting to bail, police noted that the defendant had “quite a relevant record”, referring to a previous charge of grievous bodily harm to a child, whereby a child he was involved with in a previous relationship was left blind in one eye.
Police argued that there was a risk of further offending and that the children were “petrified” of him.
The defendant’s solicitor, noted that his client had been in custody from June 15, meaning that he was past time served in respect of the offences. Furthermore, he added that the defendant denied the offences, stating that injuries were accidental and the result of a “playful wrestling match”.
“He has no intention of contacting any of the parties involved,” he added.
District Judge Anne Marshall, presiding over the court, said that there were “no circumstances or conditions” that would manage the risk of the defendant on bail.
“These are very serious offences involving two children and the allegations are that they were assaulted over a period of time in their own home, in a place where they should be safe.
“Not only that, he has a previous serious conviction for the exact same offence, cruelty to children, and grievous bodily harm to a child, in which a child was left with life-changing injuries.”
To this end, Judge Marshall refused bail on these grounds and adjourned the case until October 11, to be heard by way of video-link.