Page last updated at 20:07 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Police constable 'smacked' child

A policeman described in court as having a Dickensian attitude has been given a suspended jail sentence after he hit a primary school-age child.

Pc Michael Barker, 40, of Norfolk Police, admitted assaulting the child, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Barker "smacked" the child while off duty last summer at an address in Norfolk.

Judge Peter Jacobs gave Barker a three-month jail term, suspended for a year, and ordered that he take anger classes.

'Flaws in character'

Prosecutors said Barker "lost his temper" and hit the youngster "a number of times" after a dispute, leaving the victim with bruises.

An investigation was started after the child's mother reported the incident, the court heard.

Michael Clare, mitigating, said: "He has been mature enough and big enough to accept he was wrong and there are flaws in his character that need addressing."

Before sentencing, he told the defence counsel in open court: "I think there are underlying macho attitudes that need addressing.

"This man has got attributes which would be more appropriate at the time of (Charles) Dickens."

Afterwards, a Norfolk Police spokesman said Barker, who was based at Bowthorpe police station, remained suspended ahead of an internal misconduct hearing.

Dale Cooper, of Norfolk Police's professional standards department, said: "We do expect our officers to maintain high standards of professional behaviour both on and off duty and unfortunately Pc Barker's conduct has failed to meet these standards."

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