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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 11:46 GMT
Child goaders' sentencing delayed
Four women who goaded toddlers to fight and filmed it have had their sentencing referred to the crown court.

The four admitted child cruelty charges before Plymouth magistrates last month.

During the case, seven minutes of film was shown. A boy wearing a nappy was called a "wimp" for not hitting a girl back after she struck him in the face.

Magistrates decided they did not have sufficient sentencing powers. The case is due to appear in the city's crown court on 20 April.

The crown court is the appropriate venue for sentence
District Judge Paul Farmer

The film was found by social services.

The boy, aged two, is seen crying after being punched in the face by the three-year-old girl and is told by one of the four women in the room "not to be a wimp or a faggot" and to hit her back.

The four women, all from the same family, are heard laughing as the toddlers are urged to keep on fighting.

One of the women pleaded guilty to causing or procuring the children to be ill treated in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury.

The other three pleaded guilty to jointly inciting the ill treatment of children.

Police said they had been shocked by the case.

The children are in the care of Plymouth City Council's Social Services.

On bail

The group were due to be sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court, but District Judge Paul Farmer ruled the court had insufficient powers to deal with them.

Magistrates are only able to impose a prison sentence of up to six months.

Judge Farmer said: "I have seen a video which shows behaviour that I, nor any one else, have never seen before.

"In my opinion, the crown court is the appropriate venue for sentence."

The group, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have been released on bail.


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