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Child cruelty charges denied by religious Devon father who allegedly read Bible before caning children, a court hears

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 12, 2014

Exeter Crown Court from the outside: Exeter Crown Court has heard how a strict father is accused of submitting children to beatings and cruel punishments

Exeter Crown Court has heard how a strict father is accused of submitting children to beatings and cruel punishments

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A PENTECOSTALIST allegedly read verses from the Bible to his children before punishing them with a cane and a belt, a jury has been told.

The 46-year-old church goer told his family that to spare the rod was to spoil the child before allegedly subjecting two of his three children to beatings.

The strict father also forced the girl and boy to sit cross legged with their hands on their heads facing a wall for days on end as a punishment, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He allegedly made the girl take cold showers if she wet the bed and once held her upside down as a punishment for so long her face went red.

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The man consulted a Pentecostal minister about the Biblical justification for physical punishment at the time he was carrying out the beatings, a jury was told.

The father from Devon denies two counts of child cruelty. One alleges he ill treated or assaulted the girl from the age of three to 16. The other alleged he ill treated the boy when he was aged four to 15.

Miss Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said the defendant was stepfather to the girl and father to the boy, having married their mother in 1996.

Both children and their mother went to the police last year after the marriage broke down and the two children made statements detailing the punishments they endured during their childhoods.

Miss Cassel said: “He subjected both to regular beatings or assaults using a cane, belts and even his shod foot. These beatings left welts to their backs and cuts and bruises. He caused unnecessary suffering in the guise of parental discipline.

“There was also emotional abuse. As a punishment he would make them sit cross legged and with their hands on their heads facing the wall.

“He would do this not for minutes, or even hours, but for days and weeks or months on end, only letting them move for meals, school or bedtime.

“The girl’s earliest memory of the defendant is him making her take a cold shower when she wet the bed. Discipline progressed to the belt and when she was six to sitting in front of the wall, sometimes for a whole week.

“At one stage she was given the option of the wall or the belt and she chose the belt because it would be over quicker.

“She told the police at one stage the defendant sat the family down at the dinner table and read excerpts from the Bible which he said justified the use of the cane on his children.

“A minister from his church will describe a conversation he had with the defendant about this excerpt from the Bible. He mentioned a verse about sparing the rod and spoiling the child as an apparently good way of disciplining children.

“His behaviour towards his son was even worse. The girl can remember him using violence towards the boy throughout his childhood and recalls him using a cane from the garden on him and also witnessed him kicking him.

“The boy told police he had been made to sit and stare at the wall for a whole month and from the age of seven or eight he was subjected to the belt. He chose the wall because he had heard his sister screaming when she got the belt and in his words it did not sound nice.

“He saw marks on his sister from the belt and when he was about eight the defendant began to use a bamboo cane from the garden. He thought this happened about 10 times a year.

“The violence reduced from the ages of 11 to 15 as he was older and better able to stand up for himself but he told the police the last incident of violence had been about a month before he made his statement.

“We say the boy described a lengthy catalogue of violent abuse and ill treatment which caused unnecessary suffering and was entirely inconsistent with responsible parenting.”

Miss Cassel said the defendant denied carrying out any assaults and said the false allegations had been made in the context of a custody dispute.

The trial continues.

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