THE sickening assaults by a Nhill man, who repeatedly bashed his de facto partner’s seven-year-old son, have been labelled disgraceful and deplorable by a judge.
Steven John Whitehead, 33, appeared in the County Court at Ballarat yesterday, where he appealed a sentence handed down in Horsham Magistrates Court on June 26 this year.
Whitehead had pleaded guilty to almost 20 charges stemming from the assaults on the boy.
In one incident Whitehead entered the bedroom of the young boy and punched him in the nose and eye, causing his nose to bleed and bruising around the eyes.
In another assault, Whitehead entered the bathroom while the boy was showering, scratching his back with an unknown object that caused two deep lacerations.
In two similar assaults, Whitehead forced the boy to smash his own head on a metal bar, and hit him across the face with a cricket stump.
Police and the Department of Human Services were alerted to the boy’s injuries after teachers noticed him showing up for school with continual bruising and lacerations.
Arrested on March 25 this year, Whitehead denied any wrongdoing in his police interview.
He told police the boy already had the black eye, and said other injuries were caused when the fold-out bed he was sleeping on collapsed.
Interviews with the mother also revealed that she believed her son had walked into door knobs, and that Whitehead “forgot” to tell her about the fold-out bed collapsing.
Whitehead had been in a relationship with the boy’s mother since November last year.
The mother sat in court yesterday, supporting Whitehead.
Judge Howard Mason described a victim impact statement the boy had provided.
He said one question put to the boy was: “Have you lost anything special to you because of what happened?” To which the boy replied “Mum”.
Re-sentencing Whitehead, Judge Mason said his case had to be used as a general deterrence for “such terrible” crimes.
“This little fella was in his own home, where he was entitled to feel safe,” Judge Mason said.
“The real impact of these assaults will be felt psychologically for a very long time to come.”
Whitehead was re-sentenced to two years jail, with a non-parole period of 12 months.
The appeal cut four months from his original non-parole period.