Monday, March 30, 2009

Australia: Child care workers guilty of assault for threatening boy, 4

Staff reporters
March 31, 2009 09:55am,21985,25268091-662,00.html

TWO child care workers who told a four-year-old boy they'd "chop off his willy" pleaded guilty to assault and received suspended jail sentences.

The mother and daughter childcare workers held a knife to a four-year-old boy and threatening to cut off his penis, PerthNow reports.

The pair admitted making the threats to "shock'' the boy so he'd stop exposing himself at the Perth daycare centre where they worked, Armadale Magistrates Court was told.

Sandra Kaye Ingraham, 60, and her daughter Kelly Sandra Ingraham, 28, of Kelmscott, were both accused of having held a kitchen knife to the four-year-old and threatening to "chop'' or "cut'' off his penis on three different occasions.

Outside the court, the boy's grandmother told reporters that since the assaults, the boy had tried to harm himself a number of times and she'd been forced to hide her kitchen knives.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Robert Clements told the court both of the accused had held a large kitchen knife 30cm away as they threatened the boy.

"I'll chop your willy off'', "I'll chop it off'' and "I'll cut it off'' were among the threats made to the four-year-old, Sgt Clements said.

The incidents occurred between January and April last year.

The boy's grandmother said she now "put all my knives up on the top shelf so he can't touch them anymore''.

"I've got a couple of butter knives in the drawer which now and again he might try and take one of them and put it on his arm a little bit, but all my other big knives are all gone.

"It hasn't happened for maybe five, six, seven weeks but with the court today I think he sensed something was going on and he's gone into the drawer and taken a butter knife out and tried to cut himself.''

Magistrate Brian Glustein told the pair they had assaulted a child whose welfare had been placed in their hands.

"Each assault was constituted by responsible ladies holding a knife to the boy,'' Mr Glustein said.
The assaults were serious despite the pair's lawyers describing them as "mid-range'' in severity, Mr Glustein said.

In sentencing, he said prison terms were a last resort and he took the fact the pair had no prior convictions, their guilty pleas and the fact they were unlikely to offend similarly again, into consideration.

"It is my view that regarding the seriousness the only appropriate sentences are terms of imprisonment.''

The women, between them, were initially charged with four counts of aggravated assault but the charges were amended when they changed their pleas from not guilty on the eve of a trial.

The mother pleaded guilty two counts of unlawful assault while her daughter pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful assault.

The magistrate sentenced both women to nine months on each of the charges, wholly suspended for 15 months, with Sandra Ingraham's sentences to be served concurrently.

The pair covered their faces as they walked from court.

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