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Domestic CP - July 2006

Corpun file 17794

Timaru Herald, 1 July 2006

Mum acquitted on horsewhip charge back in court

By Rhonda Markby

The woman controversially acquitted of assaulting her child with a horsewhip last year has been charged with assaulting another of her children.

The woman, who was living in South Canterbury at the time of the jury trial, now faces a charge of assaulting a teenage son at Rangitata on January 21 this year.

She was granted final name suppression at the time of the trial in May 2005.

An older male, living at the same Canterbury address as her, faces three charges of assaulting the boy. Two of the charges against the man allege the assault occurred at Rangitata, while the third charge, relating to the same day, alleges an assault at Winchester.

When the pair were called in the Timaru District Court this week, lawyer Mike Radford, who also appeared for the woman at the earlier trial, had the charges adjourned to a pre-hearing meeting on July 20. Pleas have not been entered.

Prior to last year's trial the woman had admitted striking her son with a horsewhip and a bamboo cane, based on her christian beliefs.

She had given him "six of the best" with a cane for misbehaving at school, and struck him three to four times with a horsewhip following an incident in which the boy waved a baseball bat at her partner.

Last month the woman threatened defamation action against MP Sue Bradford and Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro if they continued to quote her case as a reason to ban smacking. She also demanded a formal apology.

In her letter, the woman said she was fed up with the pair deliberately misleading and misinforming the public about her case to push their own anti-social political agenda.

"You were not part of the jury, and yet you continually speak as an authority on our case as if you were party to the complete case. You were not.

"How arrogant of you, who were not part of the proceedings to insist the jury's decision was wrong and state that this was a clear cut case of abuse. Clearly to the jury, it was not.

"I love my son very dearly.

"I have not ever attacked my son or assaulted him on any occasion."

The jury's decision was greeted with outrage in some quarters. Ms Bradford claimed it had made people serious about getting the law changed. The move to have Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 (relating to corporal punishment of children) repealed had gone quiet until the Timaru verdict, but the case sparked a nationwide debate.

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