Warning: This story contains details of child abuse that may be disturbing to some readers.
A Richmond man who assaulted his young son tried and failed to get a new trial to overturn his conviction.
The incident took place in 2019 at the dad’s Richmond home while they were “play fighting,” an activity that “(the son) and his father sometimes engaged in, where they tried to knock the other person off the couch,” according to B.C. Supreme Court justice Anita Chan.
Moments before the incident, according to court documents, the 12-year-old son had tried to get his phone back from the dad after it was taken away a few days before.
When the dad refused, the son got angry and flipped over a chair in his playroom. He then went out to the living room and asked to play fight.
When the son accidentally damaged his dad’s glasses while play fighting, the dad apparently became “very angry,” and started yelling at the son.
The dad then chased the son into the playroom, grabbed him, “twisted his arm behind his back, and threw him repeatedly on a chair, then on the floor.” He also pinned the son’s head against a wooden frame of an art project and punched the other side of the son’s head.
The son told the court that both his ears were injured, and an older cousin had intervened and told the dad to stop.
Later that night, the son was taken to meet his mom, who was divorced from his dad.
She noticed his injured ears and reported it to the police. Although the son mentioned earlier violent incidents with his dad, they were dismissed by the trial judge due to the vagueness of his evidence.
Dad claimed son had history of assault
However, the dad’s version of events was completely different.
He claimed his son had a history of assaulting him and said his son was “upset about not getting his phone back,” tried to search for the phone, and placed bars of soap and magazines on his head.
According to the dad, the son kicked and punched him and even tried to choke him by wrapping a jacket around his head while play fighting. The son then went into his playroom and threw a chair.
He told the court that when he went into the playroom, his son “kicked him repeatedly in the groin and punched him in the face, damaging (the dad’s) eyeglasses.”
He claimed he was trying to control his son by putting him on a chair and later on a mattress on the floor, where the son come in contact with wood on an art project while rolling around.
“The (dad said he) tried to hold (his son’s) head still, as (his son) was head-butting him repeatedly,” said justice Anita Chan.
The dad claimed the older cousin had told his son to “stop assaulting his father” and while he had suffered injuries, he never saw any injuries on his son.
He was tried in 2020 and convicted of assaulting his son in 2021.
Dad questioned son’s credibility
In the dad’s appeal, he claimed the trial judge had made mistakes by judging his son’s credibility based on his son’s consistent prior recorded statements. He also argued that a pediatric doctor was not qualified to comment on whether his son’s injuries were accidental or not.
Judge Chan disagreed with the dad’s arguments.
While it is true that consistent statements made outside of court can’t be used to “bolster” a witness’ credibility, Chan said it was permissible for the trial judge to reference the prior statements to assess the son’s credibility.
“In his submission, counsel for the (dad) directly called into question (the son’s) credibility, calling him a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ type of person,” Chan said.
“The (dad’s) counsel argued (the son) kept changing his story, and as such, he ought not to be believed.”
Judge Chan found that the pediatric doctor, who has worked in the B.C. Children’s Hospital’s Child Protection Service Unit for the past 20 years assessing children for suspected child abuse, was qualified to give evidence on the son’s injuries.
The dad’s appeal was dismissed.