Babysitter left bruises on child’s face

A South Canterbury father has been ordered to do a parenting course as part of his sentence after his attempts to quieten a crying baby left bruises on the mouth and cheeks.

Nathan Ruru Gray has a son of his own, but the bruises were inflicted on a 17-month-old baby he was looking after.

He was at the Christchurch address on home detention at the time, but now lives outside Timaru.

This weekend, he begins a four-month community detention sentence in South Canterbury, and Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan also ordered him to do 100 hours of community work.

He also ordered Gray to do nine months under supervision, during which the probation officer will order him to attend a parenting programme and drug and alcohol rehabilitation meetings.

Defence counsel Josh Lucas said Gray was already attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Gray, 31, had pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting a child.

Mr Lucas said: “He describes it as a momentary loss of control borne out of frustration over his inability to work through the problems of dealing with a very upset young child.” Since then he had begun counselling to ensure he could work out how to deal with such issues.

The baby had been left in Gray’s care by the parents. When the child cried for 45 minutes, he placed his hand over the mouth for four seconds. The child stopped crying, but Gray placed his hand over the mouth again for six seconds when the crying started again.

He said he stopped because he felt it was wrong. The baby was left with bruises on the mouth and cheeks.

Judge Callaghan said Gray clearly knew it was serious offending and a prison term was “on the radar”. His actions had presumably restricted the child’s breathing.

“I hope you have learnt something from this. If you hadn’t stopped it could have been almost fatal for this child,” said the judge.

He said he could stop short of imprisonment because Gray had realised his actions were wrong, had admitted his offending to the parents, and pleaded guilty.

“The parents of the child are very concerned about what happened,” said the judge. “They want you to receive serious counselling so you become a better parent yourself.”

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