A MAN who dragged his seven-year-old stepson to his bedroom by his ankles, resulting in him needing hospital treatment, has avoided jail.
Stephen Daniel Jameson (42) appeared in Joondalup Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with assault causing bodily harm in circumstances of aggravation, meaning it involved a child.
The court heard that on January 10, 2018 Jameson’s stepson, Mason Simpson, was sitting on the couch in his Butler home while his mother was at work.
His stepsister, Jameson’s daughter, was next to Mason and crying because she wanted to sit where he was.
The prosecutor said Jameson started shouting at Mason, giving him five chances to behave.
He then pulled Mason off the couch by his ankles, causing him to “hit his head and bottom on the timber floors”.
Jameson said he would give Mason “one more chance” then continued dragging him by his ankles to his bedroom, causing his head to hit a television cabinet, which split his right earlobe open, causing a 0.5cm laceration that required stitches.
Once in his bedroom, Jameson locked the door from the outside but when Mason saw blood on his shirt and floor, he started screaming and crying.
The prosecutor said Jameson then opened the door and said “do you want something to cry about?” before he took Mason to the toilet, applied tissues to the ear and took him to hospital.
The court heard that on the way to hospital, Jameson asked what fast food Mason wanted for dinner and told him to tell the doctors they were playing a game on a blanket on the floor and fell.
Jameson’s lawyer Tony Hager said his client and Mason’s mother had been in a relationship for two years and had “difficulties on both sides” regarding “frustrations with the children’s behaviour”.
Mr Hager said this included Mason’s ADHD that made his “behaviour hard to deal with” and he would “act out”.
However, Mr Hager said Jameson accepted he “lost his cool at times” and should respond in a “more measured way”.
He said while the facts were “largely accepted”, he said Jameson “tended to Mason with care” by seeking medical treatment.
“He accepts the seriousness and vulnerability of the victim and that he was in a position of trust and should have acted more appropriately but did not,” Mr Hager said.
He also highlighted that negotiations meant Mason was not required to attend court.
Mr Hager said Jameson, a self-employed window cleaner, had no prior criminal history and this incident was a “departure from the norm”, suggesting Jameson could benefit from a community based order.
The police prosecutor argued a conditional suspended prison order would be “more appropriate”, also giving the benefits of a community based order.
“Clearly there are some anger management issues,” she said.
“But the offence is so serious that prison is the only suitable disposition given the age and vulnerability of the victim and the manner in which it was carried out by being dragged across the ground.”
She said having a suspended prison sentencing hanging over his head would act as a deterrent.
Magistrate Sandra De Maio agreed prison was the only option.
She said Jameson’s relationship with Mason was “very special” and “built on trust”.
“Your actions go beyond disciplining a child and it was not just one instance but you dragged the child from the couch to the bedroom causing injury, albeit a small one,” she said.
“That would have been a painful and frightening experience with the damage inflicted by someone he ought to feel safe with.”
She also said that Mason’s behavioural difficulties could not excuse Jameson’s behaviour.
However, Ms De Maio said Jameson’s behaviour after the incident was to his credit.
“You tended to him and took him to get medical attention,” she said.
“You recognised the gravity of the offence but you had the child’s best interest at heart.”
Though she said “some recognition” must be given to the child being asked to give the doctor a different version of events.
Taking into account Jameson’s character references and that negotiations saved Mason from having to come to court, Ms De Maio sentenced Jameson to 10 months in prison, suspended for 12 months.
He was also facing two charges of common assault in circumstances of aggregation but the police prosecutor said negotiations on Friday afternoon had led to the two charges being discontinued, with Jameson pleading guilty to the more serious charge.
He will also need to take part in programs to address anger management and parenting.
“The offending was so dreadful and such an eruption of anger and violence that you must learn how to better handle it,” she said.
The prosecutor also applied to have an interim violence restraining order currently in place to be made final.
As well as covering Mason, his siblings and his mum, it also covers a 20-month-old child that she had with Jameson.
Therefore, Mr Hager urged Ms De Maio to wait until it was listed for a hearing.
Ms De Maio agreed it was “not a simple order” and that it must be “aired with all parties involved” and did not grant the final order.
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