19 June 2023

'Slap boxing' drives stepfather into 'Dad mode', chokes two boys

| Albert McKnight
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man with pixellated face enters court

The stepfather, aged in his early 30s, leaves court after pleading guilty to choking. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A stepfather has admitted choking two 13-year-old boys hours after his stepson was involved in a game of “slap boxing”.

The assault happened after a teenage boy was hurt in a children’s game. His stepfather went into “Dad mode” and choked the two 13-year-olds who’d upset the boy.

In July 2022, the 12-year-old boy met up with the others and started playing a game of “slap boxing”, but one of the older boys claimed the younger one had broken the rules so punched him in the eye and nose.

The 12-year-old became upset, went home and told his mother that he had been winning the game and the other boys had “jumped” him.

The older boys were at a sleepover at a home at 9 pm that night when one of their sisters, aged eight, heard someone calling from outside.

Both the 12-year-old’s mother and stepfather then entered the home and asked the girl where her brother was. She pointed at his bedroom.

The stepfather opened the bedroom door to see the two 13-year-olds and some other boys inside and told them, “Well, you boys, we’re going to have a talk”.

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One of the 13-year-olds told him to get out, but he grabbed him in a headlock and fell onto the bed on top of him.

He also reached out and momentarily grabbed the second 13-year-old by the neck, restricting his ability to breathe.

Meanwhile, the 12-year-old’s mother stood in the doorway and yelled, “Be careful walking to school”.

The father of one of the older boys arrived to find the stepfather and mother in the bedroom and told them to get out.

They yelled that they were only there because the boys had “jumped” their son, which the older boys denied, before leaving.

Police arrested the stepfather the next day, during which he tried to hide under a bed. The mother was also arrested and, in an interview with police, agreed the stepfather had gone into “Dad mode” and raised his voice throughout the incident.

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Both the stepfather and the mother, who were aged in their 30s when they were arrested, appeared in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (19 June) for what had been scheduled to be the first day of their trial.

Instead, the prosecution dropped charges of aggravated burglary against both and the stepfather pleaded guilty to two counts of choking, suffocation or strangulation.

His lawyer, Tim Sharman of Tim Sharman Solicitors, told the court his client did have a significant criminal history, but not for offences of violence. He had been imprisoned in NSW before.

Justice Verity McWilliam adjourned for sentencing on Friday (23 June). The stepfather is on bail.

Region has not named the mother or stepfather to avoid identifying the children involved.

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