A 30-year-old man has avoided prison for a second time when he was given a suspended sentence at Fermanagh Magistrates Court where he was found guilty of common assault on Monday.

Stephen Henry George Morton of Cleenish Park, Enniskillen was found guilty of the charge in relation to an incident involving his son.

On the weekend of September 16 to 18, 2016 Morton was looking after his five-year-old son when the incident took place.

The court heard at the ABE interview the child said that his father had hit him on the bum and put him up against a wall which left red marks on the child’s backside. The child said that his daddy had got angry with him because he told lies.

The child’s mother said that she had bathed her son on the Thursday before he went and stayed with his father and she saw no marks on the child. When he returned on Monday she noticed the marks. Initially he said that he had fallen.

His mother took him to the doctors who examined the five-year-old and concluded that the marks were consistent with blunt force trauma and would be considered suspicious if not accidental.

Morton’s son had told him that his mother’s partner had poked him a private area. When Morton asked the child’s sister if this was true, to which she said it was a lie which resulted in the use of force against the child.

The 30-year-old was interviewed by police during which he read two prepared statements about the incident and he felt the force used was legal chastisement.

Speaking for his witness, defence barrister Ciaran Roddy told the court that his client had accepted that the force used was not “reasonable chastisement” and he had a lot of contrition for how he had acted.

He added that Morton was sorry and ashamed about the incident and had been “found wanting” for parenting techniques and tolerance and that “many issues into parenting needed to be addressed”.

Mr. Roddy said his client was extremely motivated not to reoffend and is involved in charitable work in England to give back to the community.

Mr. Roddy also asked the court to consider Morton’s pleas of guilty which he said, “prevented a vulnerable witness coming to court and giving evidence against his father”.

Morton was already serving a suspended sentence for a similar offence and was told if the both cases had been tried together he may have faced imprisonment.

In handing down his judgement, District Judge Renahan said: “The custody threshold has been breached. Force against children must be condemned.”

On top of his current suspended sentence, Morton was given six months suspended for two and a half years