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Supreme Court of Denmark

Imprisonment for long-term abuse of children committed by their father 

Case no. 128/2011
Judgment 12 January 2012
 

The Public Prosecutor
vs.
T

Imprisonment for one year and three months for long-term abuse of three children committed by their father

In its judgment in the appeal case, the High Court considered that T had repeatedly and often during a long period of time up to his arrest on 7 June 2010 slapped his three boys, born in 1991, 1994 and 1996, across their faces and bodies and pulled their ears and their necks. Also, he sometimes pushed them hard and tore them off a chair, he punched their bodies and faces and hit them with a belt across their bodies, he put pepper into their mouths to punish them and several times he forced the oldest boy to sit with his knees on top of his hands on a tile floor, which caused him severe pain. These acts of violence had generally only resulted in red bruises and scratches. The High Court had not indicated the length of the period, but it must be assumed to have been at least 10 years, which is most of the boys' childhood. There had been long periods without violence, but the acts of violence had been regularly occurring during the entire period. The Supreme Court held that although the acts of violence taken alone were covered by s. 244(1) of the Danish Penal Code, abuse had also been committed, cf. s. 245(1). The abuse and force committed (s. 260(1)(1)) involved a number of uniform and continuous acts which were so interrelated that they had to be regarded as a continued offence, meaning that no constituents of the offence were statute-barred. Also, T had been found guilty of infringement of s. 123 of the Penal Code by having threatened the oldest boy to thrash and kill him if he reported the violence to the police on two occasions. Finally, T had been found guilty of infringement of s. 266 of the Penal Code by having threatened his wife, H, to thrash and kill her on several occasions.

T had no criminal record. The Supreme Court sentenced him to imprisonment for one year and three months.

In 1990, T, who was a Portuguese citizen, came to Denmark, and in 1991, he married H, who was a Danish citizen. In 1996, he was granted a permanent residence permit. An expulsion decision would be in contravention of Article 28(3)(a) of the EU Residence Directive, as it was not based on imperative grounds of public security, and for this reason alone, T was not sentenced to expulsion.

The High Court had reached a different conclusion, as the acts of violence had not been regarded as abuse, just as it did not find that a continued offence had been committed. For this reason, a number of the counts had been regarded as being statute-barred after five years, and T had been sentenced for imprisonment for 10 months.

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