Fanatical Burnley dad punished his children for poor golf shots

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A GOLF-MAD dad was so obsessed with trying to make championship players out of his two young sons he assaulted them after poor shots, a court was told.

The “cruel” and fanatical 33-year-old from Burnley, said to have sunk his teeth into and pinched the youngsters, aged eight and six, hit the elder child’s leg with a golf club and hurled a ball at him from feet away, gashing and bruising his ear.

The younger child, who was hit in the knee with a ball, was left with multiple injuries, including a scratched eye, at the hands of the defendant. Their father was arrested after the six-year-old turned up at school with a mark to his face and distressed and a teacher asked him what had happened, Burnley Crown Court heard.

The hearing was told when police spoke to the boys the children told them they enjoyed golf and said it was their job. The six-year-old declared: “We are going to be championship golfers when we get older.”

The defendant’s wife was said to be unaware of the pain he was inflicting on their sons, even though the trio had golf lessons in the living room every morning, before school. She was upset and sobbed when she found out.

The dad had to leave the family home after the offences came to light, but was allowed contact with his sons by the local authority. He walked free from court so it can continue.

The defendant, who at first claimed the boys’ injuries were accidental, admitted two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm and one of common assault, in June last year. He was given 52 weeks in jail, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision.

Sarah Statham (prosecuting) said the dad gave his sons golf tuition before and after school every day and if they did not play well, they would be assaulted.

After the six-year-old went to school injured last June and told his teacher his father had pinched his eye as they played golf that morning, the authorities became involved.

Miss Statham said the six-year-old told officers his father also grabbed his leg in a “clawing action” and he had been hurt and upset.

The eight-year-old was hit in the knee with a golf club and his ear was cut after his father threw a golf ball at him, from 4ft. away. A paediatrician who examined the boy found several other injuries to the ear. The six-year-old had pinching injuries on both hands and his thigh, his face and the top of his scalp were scratched and he was bruised.

Miss Statham said the defendant was arrested and interviewed and made out many of the injuries were accidental. He had no previous convictions.

Carolyn Smith (defending) said he was, ordinarily, very much a family man, who lived for his wife and children. He had been separated from his family since the offences after the involvement of child protection agencies and that had served as significant punishment already, before the punishment he would receive in court.

The barrister said: “They are clearly serious offences and he does now acknowledge that. He had an almost obsessive desire for his sons to become championship golf players.”

Sentencing, Judge Beverly Lunt told the defendant his actions must have hurt the children considerably and said it was “beyond belief” that as their father, he had assaulted his children over golf shots.

She added: “This is child cruelty. It’s inexcusable and I do not believe any right thinking person could make any sense of it whatsoever.

“If you permit your obsession with golf to overcome you again and lay a finger on either of them you will immediately come back before me and I will send you to prison.”