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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 13:32 GMT
Convicted father 'feels humiliated'
Edinburgh Sheriff Court
The trial was held at Edinburgh Sheriff Court
A Frenchman who was found guilty of assaulting his son during a trip to Edinburgh said his trial was unfair and that he felt humiliated.

The man, who cannot be named because it would identify his child, said he was "condemned" by the fact the conviction would always be on his police record.

The 33-year-old was found guilty of assaulting his eight-year-old after a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

However, the father was admonished by Sheriff Isobel Poole because he had already spent two nights in custody following his arrest.

This father was treated like a criminal, he had his fingerprints and DNA taken and why? Because he smacked his son on the bum

Jan Hoornweg
deputy mayor of Ons-en-Bray
The accused said he felt the sheriff had ignored his evidence and only taken the testimony of two witnesses into account.

They were Bernadette Gallagher, 40, and her husband Kevin, 49.

They intervened after witnessing the assault in a dark alley outside Balli's Tandoori in Hanover Street.

Mrs Gallagher, a mother-of-three, described the incident in court as a "vicious attack".

Assault denied

The sheriff said that if the man had been living in Scotland she might have asked for social inquiry reports and a community-based sentence, as well as referring the case to the Reporter to the Children's Panel.

However, she said that was not practical in this case.

The factory worker had originally also been accused of injuring his son.

But Sheriff Poole dismissed that part of the charge.

The man had denied assaulting the youngster by repeatedly punching and kicking him.

The family, from Ons-en-Bray, Oise, near Paris, were visiting Edinburgh when the incident happened on 22 September last year.

'Smack hunters'

The deputy mayor of Ons-en-Bray, Jan Hoornweg, helped organise the defence and was in court for the verdict.

He reacted angrily, saying: "As a result of this case, on the streets be careful, you'll have what I call smack hunters saying 'I saw you smacking your child'."

Mr Hoornweg added: "What have the police done for this family? It has been a huge psychological shock for them and they had to get psychiatric help.

"This father was treated like a criminal, he had his fingerprints and DNA taken and why? Because he smacked his son on the bum. "

And Natalie Revenu, 35, a journalist with Le Parisien, who attended the trial, said the French felt there was an "element of racism in this case".

BBC Scotland's Aileen Clarke reports
"Both the child's parents said they felt shocked and humiliated"
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