Baby-bashing dad walks free

STEVEN Mark Payne's attempt to discipline his threeyear-old daughter turned ugly when he fractured her left leg.

His first reaction when he realised he had gone too far was: "Honey, call an ambulance.''

Adding to his woes as he pleaded guilty yesterday in Rockhampton District Court to grievous bodily harm, were his previous assaults on the girl's brother when the boy was six.

In 2000, Payne, now 32, hit the boy with a jug cord, causing welts and bruising.

He also speared the boy's head into the floor, causing a nose bleed.

He was placed on probation.

For the offence against his daughter in 2003, Payne was yesterday given a final chance by Judge Julie Dick.

His 21/2-year jail sentence was wholly suspended, provided he does not reoffend in the next five years.

Payne, of Rockhampton, had claimed he intended to slap the girl's bottom when she suddenly moved.

However, the girl's brother saw the incident differently, and said it was more like a punch.

"Before you lift your hand again you have to think that's going to cost you 21/2 years in jail,'' Judge Dick warned Payne.

"Effectively you have to stay squeaky clean for five years.''

Earlier Payne's barrister, Tom Polley, said there had been tension in the household at the time of the incident.

Payne's de facto partner, Tanya Joy Johnson, 27, had been receiving death threats from her mother.

Johnson yesterday pleaded guilty to being an accessory to grievous bodily harm.

Her barrister, Ross Lo Monaco, said she had been motivated to lie about the incident because she feared the children would be taken away.

Johnson was sentenced to three months' jail, wholly suspended.

She must not reoffend within 12 months.

The couple's four children were back living with them and progress was good, the court heard.

Both parents had completed relationship and grief counselling as well as behaviour management and anger management training and a parenting course.

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