A hot-headed father who slapped a 12-year-old schoolboy in the face for bullying his young daughter has been sentenced to three months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
Alan Fitzpatrick, of Cavandale, Cavanaleck, Enniskillen, admitted assaulting the boy and was warned that if there was any repetition of the offence he would go to jail.
The court heard the boy was so frightened he wet himself and was physically sick.
Outlining the circumstances of the case a prosecutor told Fermanagh Court that on Thursday, December 1, last year, police attended a report of an assault outside the Spar shop at Chanterhill in Enniskillen. The officers spoke to a 12-year-old boy who told then he was walking home with a group of friends after getting off a school bus. All three of them had been throwing sticks in the direction of Fitzpatrick's daughter, who was also on her way home from school. The boys went into the shop and when they came out were approached by Fitzpatrick about his daughter being bullied. Fitzpatrick then struck the 12-year-old in the face. The officers noticed redness to the boy's cheek and eye area.
Asked if it was a punch, the prosecutor said it appeared to have been with an open hand.
He said the boy was extremely shook up, was crying and had urinated on himself. He was taken to see a doctor and physically threw up.
The prosecutor told the court that when Fitzpatrick was interviewed by police he admitted approaching the group about bullying his daughter. He said he was hot-headed and the things he had said to the boys wouldn't have been nice and his intention was to scare them. He said he couldn't remember hitting one of the boys.
The court heard that in their statements to police the boys were quite candid, with one of them accepting that they were throwing sticks on to the grass where Fitzpatrick's daughter was standing.
The prosecutor said it was not accepted that any of the sticks hit the girl.
Defence barrister, Miss Heather Philips, said the sticks "just missed her".
She said the girl had been subjected to a "campaign of bullying" for a period of months and came home crying on numerous occasions. Her father had told her to let it pass. On this occasion the three boys were throwing sticks and the girl phoned her mother in a state of distress. Her father had to go and retrieve her.
The court heard that all of the children involved attended the same school.
Deputy District Judge Neil Rafferty asked: "Did any of the parents go to see the teacher?"
Fitzpatrick, who was sitting in the public gallery at the back of the court, said they thought that "could have made matters worse".
The Deputy District Judge told him: "As a father myself, you are very conscious of your children being bullied or victimised and I know how that must be perceived by you but what you did was entirely wrong. If this arises again I would encourage you to see the principal of the school.
"Bullies exist because of fear that if they are reported it might get worse but usually what you find is that once bullies are exposed that's the end of it," he added.
"That was the end of it," said Fitzpatrick.
The Deputy District Judge warned him: "If there's any repetition of this you will go to jail."