A husband and wife who shot at their children with a BB gun as a form of punishment, have been sentenced.
This was the behaviour of people who had developed a system, a regime of discipline, that involved this form of violence.
The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, regularly used the ‘bizarre and frankly barbaric chastisement’, Preston Crown Court heard.
The pair, aged 50 and 33, would use the weapon on their five kids – aged seven to 15 – whenever they stepped out of line. The father kept it down the side of the sofa and would hand it to their mother to use when he left their Blackpool home.
Jailing the dad, Judge Robert Altham said the gun created a ‘climate of fear’, adding: “He appears in the first instance to have been the instigator of this bizarre and frankly barbaric chastisement.”
One of the girls, 15, was shot in the leg when she refused to change her baby sister’s nappy and another girl, 13, was targeted when she did not do the dishes properly, Preston Crown Court heard.
She was also shot for having a boyfriend, as her dad said she was too young.
On June 23, one of the children, 13, told a teacher at school she had been shot and had bruises and an open wound on her legs.
She hid her injuries under her blazer or long school socks but said she did not feel safe at home as her dad had fired the BB gun at her. Social services were called in and the children were removed from the family home.
One girl said: “If I didn’t do the chores in the house, dad or my mum would either threaten me with the BB gun or shoot me with it. They’d shoot me on the legs, arms, stomach and back.”
The other children gave similar accounts, the court heard. One girl, 13, said she was shot when she dropped things, telling officers: “I drop stuff nearly every day.”
They said their father would use the weapon more often than their mum but if he was not there, their mum would use it.
Jon Close, prosecuting, told the court the father had brought the gun home in February 2016 and began using it to chastise the children.
Both parents were arrested and vehemently denied the allegations.
The father admitted using a Nerf gun to fire foam darts at the children but claimed his 13-year-old daughter was responsible for the BB injuries on the other children.
However both parents later pleaded guilty to five counts of child cruelty.
Rosalyn Emslie-Smith, defending the father, said: “His primary concern is for the welfare of his children. He always accepted he has failed in terms of his parenting.”
She said her client had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse but had been drug free for six years and sober for 10 months.
Ciaran Rankin, defending the mother, said: “This was, on any view, a very serious way of chastising them. It was misguided, unlawful, chastisement.
“It began as a bit of fun and developed from there.”
Judge Robert Altham, jailed the father for two years and handed the mother a 19 month sentence suspended for two years.
He said: “This was not the behaviour of immature parents. This was the behaviour of people who had developed a system, a regime of discipline, that involved this form of violence.
The judge said there was a distinction between the gravity of offending between the parents and noted the father had a lengthy criminal record while the mother had never previously been before the courts.