Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Jail for 'inhumane' boy cruelty

Darren Monkton (right) with a prison officer
Darren Monkton was found guilty in his absence after he absconded

A man who tortured his four-year-old stepson by holding his head under water and using him for target practice has been jailed for three years.

The judge at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court told Darren Monkton, 27, of Bridgend, he was guilty of "inhumane treatment".

The boy's mother, 26, who is now heavily pregnant with Monkton's child, was given a suspended jail term.

The boy and his brother, six, told their foster mother they had called Monkton "the monster in mammy's bed".

The court heard how Monkton also tortured the boy by forcing his hand onto a hot radiator and used him as "target practice", kicking footballs at him while he was tied to a tree until he bled.

The boy's older brother was forced to watch the bath time ordeal and plead for his life as Monkton held him under water for up to 22 seconds at a time.

You were sadistic and this is the worst kind of bullying
Judge Eleri Rees

Monkton also pressed the boy's hands against a piping hot radiator until the boy suffered serious burns, and then turned his hands over so they burnt on both sides.

When police were called in to investigate they found the boy's skin still attached to the radiator.

The court heard the torture and cruelty was "punishment" for the boy wetting the bed.

The child's mother turned a blind eye to the cruelty because she is "besotted" with Monkton and is standing by him, the court was told.

The woman, now eight months pregnant with Monkton's baby, stopped sending her son to nursery school because she knew staff would notice the injuries and call in social services.

Targeting the boy

However, relatives called in the police and they discovered bruises and burn marks all over the little boy.

The court heard when police and social services interviewed the six-year-old brother of Monkton's victim, he said: "Daddy Darren only picks on him - he doesn't do it to me."

When the boys opened up to their foster mother about the cruelty, the four-year-old told her: "Daddy Daren hits me, he put a flannel in my mouth and he tried to drown me."

Prosecutor Tracey Lloyd-Nesling told the court: "Monkton started targeting the youngest boy and would hit him if he wet the bed or make him stand for hours alone in the corridor.

"He put him into a bath of cold water and pushed his head underneath for 22 seconds at a time.

It's hard to understand how a man could do these things to a four-year-old child
Judge Rees

"He burnt his hands on both sides by holding them against a radiator."

Ms Lloyd-Nesling added: "Throughout this, the boy's mother did nothing to protect her son. She knew what was going on and did nothing about it."

Monkton went missing before his trial and was found guilty of three counts of child cruelty in his absence.

Police found him three days ago - at the home of the boy's mother.

Monkton will serve a further four months for absconding.

Judge Eleri Rees told him: "You are a danger to any child placed in your care."

She said Monkton made the boy his "scapegoat".

Social services

"You were sadistic and this is the worst kind of bullying," added the judge. "It's hard to understand how a man could do these things to a four-year-old child.

"It was inhumane treatment. But for the intervention of relatives, who knows how long this would have gone on for?"

The mother was also convicted of failing to seek medical attention for her vulnerable young son.

But the judge said it would be a dreadful start for any baby to be born in custody and she was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

The court heard when the baby is born it will be taken immediately into social services care.

The boys were not known to social services until the cruelty was discovered, the court heard.

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