A former soldier, who is said to be struggling with anger and trauma caused by war, has been hauled before the Magistrate’s Court for allegedly beating a minor ‘hard’ enough to cause injury.
The accused, who is charged with two counts of cruelty to a child, pleaded not guilty.
He is not biologically related to the child.
It is reported that, on one occasion, he allegedly unleashed the beating because the minor was not performing well at school.
The accused allegedly flogged the child on another occasion because the child had eaten something that belonged to someone else. That ‘someone else’ is the child’s mother.
The former soldier’s name is being with-held to help protect the identity of the child.
Child requests ice at school to put on injury
Further allegations regarding the two incidents are that, on October 4 last year, the former soldier reprimanded the child about ‘recent behaviour’.
After a brief and sharp exchange, he allegedly took a leather belt and beat the minor on the hands and legs.
The minor recalled being struck about nine times.
The child’s mother, who was present at the time of the beating, did not intervene.
The authorities were alerted after the child went to school and requested ice to put on a swollen leg.
The child’s teacher made certain enquiries, and the matter was brought to the attention of the school principal, and the Social Development Department.
According to the prosecution, the minor sustained swelling, contusions, and weal marks to the arms and legs.
An investigation resulted in the former soldier being charged.
Further reports are that, on May 4 this year, a social worker, who had been assigned to the child, paid a visit to the child’s school.
While there, the child reportedly told the social worker that the former soldier had dished out a second severe flogging a few weeks earlier.
The beating on that occasion was because the child had eaten the mother’s tamarind stew, the court heard.
The child was taken to the Family and Juvenile Unit of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and interviewed.
While there, authorities reportedly discovered contusions to the minor’s right leg.
The minor described the object used to carry out the beating as a long leather belt. It reportedly belonged to the minor’s mother or to the accused.
The mother, who was subsequently interviewed, reportedly confirmed the child’s version of what happened.
Former soldier: I hit hard
The police then visited the former soldier’s house.
During an interview, the accused man reportedly admitted to causing marks to the child.
He said it was the second time he has had to ‘cut the child’s behind’ in that manner, the court heard.
It is alleged that the accused man further stated that he had beaten the child for poor academic performance and for eating the mother’s tamarind.
The former soldier also allegedly admitted that he had beaten the child hard because he ‘hits hard’.
He was subsequently charged.
Discipline vs Abuse
Meanwhile, in court, the prosecution objected to bail, noting that the former soldier is likely to re-offend.
But attorney-at-law Stephen Daniels, who is representing the accused man, made a successful bail application.
He told the court that his client has accepted that he has ‘certain anger issues’.
The defence attorney further stated that his client’s ‘shortcomings’ are based on the time spent at war.
He also told the court that his client wants to get therapy to deal with the anger issues.
The attorney, in the meantime, told the court that, since the child in question was ‘disciplined’, the grades have improved remarkably.
While offering $50,000 bail to the accused, Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste DaBreo noted that: “There is a difference between discipline and abuse.”
The magistrate further stated that regular therapy will not be enough. She told the former soldier that he should seek counsellors who are trained to treat post traumatic stress disorders caused by war.
“After the first incident being reported to police…it would have been a smart move to make the mother take the lead in disciplining the child,” the magistrate further said. “You need some help.”
The former soldier is to return to court on September 29. He was ordered not to harass the child.
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