A services co-ordinator at Perth Children’s Hospital was last night cleared of beating his three-year-old son with a stick — an assault alleged to have left the boy needing treatment for injuries to his buttocks.
Simon Bartlett denied a charge of aggravated assault arising from the incident at home, with prosecutors saying he used the stick to strike the boy multiple times across his backside, leaving significant bruises.
It was alleged that Mr Bartlett, 47, was home alone with his children in April when they began “playing up”, in particular his three-year-old son.
In response, it was alleged Mr Bartlett, who is employed by John Holland, used the long strip of PVC plastic — which was referred to in the house as “the stick” — to hit his son on the backside.
Police alleged the force was over the top.
Mr Bartlett denied using the stick, instead explaining he smacked his son once — with his hand — to discipline him.
In a recorded interview played to Perth Magistrate’s Court, the boy told specialist interviewers that his daddy “really hurt him”.
Magistrate Martin Flynn, after viewing the interview and speaking briefly to the child via video link, decided the evidence was inadmissible, ruling it was not intelligible enough to be relied on.
After hearing other evidence, he found Mr Bartlett not guilty.
The boy’s six-year-old sister told the court that she heard her father angrily stamping and shouting, before hearing her brother cry out.
The boy’s mother gave evidence that the stick had previously been used to wedge the bedroom doors of the children shut if the children had been naughty.
She said when she had come home that April night after a dinner with friends, her husband had been in a “weird” mood — then in the morning she saw the red marks on her son’s buttocks, called police and took him to hospital.
“That was the worst day of all our lives,” she said.
Mr Bartlett’s wife was questioned about their relationship — which she admitted had been strained in the lead-up to the incident — and whether she had used it as a “catalyst” to end the unhappy marriage while staying in the family home, which she denied.
Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Bartlett said in the months before the incident, his son’s behaviour had been “out of control” but his wife did not believe in physical discipline.
Through his lawyer Curt Hofmann, Mr Bartlett said there had been a catalogue of incidents such as the boy urinating all over the house — including in a bowl of boiled eggs — covering floors with food and washing detergent, and stuffing toilet paper down toilets.
And on the April night, the boy’s behaviour had been particularly bad.
“I decided against my wife’s wishes to slap his bottom … as a correction,” Mr Bartlett said.
“One slap with my left hand. I wasn’t doing it out of anger.
“It was to teach him wrong from right. But I didn’t use the stick.”