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Man guilty of randomly punching baby in face at supermarket fined £900

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 24/11/2016 Saphora Smith

David Hardy © Provided by Independent Print Limited David Hardy A man found guilty of randomly punching a baby in the face in a Tesco supermarket walked out of court today with a £900 ($1598 NZD) fine.

David Hardy, 64, claimed he thought the baby was a doll when he tapped five-day-old Elsie Temple with “a loose fist” to playfully “wind up” her seven-year-old sister.

But District Judge Sam Goozee, sitting at Manchester Magistrates' Court, dismissed his claim that he thought he had punched a doll as "implausible", found him guilty and handed him a £900 fine.

The incident took place at Tesco supermarket in Baguley, Wythenshawe, on September 5, when Amy Duckers took out Elsie for the first time in public.

The baby was strapped into a car seat and was placed in a small shopping trolley with Ms Duckers's other daughter, Libby, on the opposite side.

Amy Ducker © Provided by Independent Print Limited Amy Ducker

Duckers told the court she bumped into her next-door neighbour, who went over to the baby.

The neighbour, who worked at Tesco, then called over her colleague Elaine Hardy, to look at the "beautiful baby".

She said Hardy, husband of the Tesco worker, approached and, without warning, punched Elsie in the face and head.

Hardy,of Longfield Road, Baguley, was fined £900 for the assault by beating and ordered to pay Duckers £100 compensation and £500 towards prosecution costs.

The judge told him: "Elsie was a vulnerable five-day-old baby. The circumstances in which you committed this assault are highly exceptional. It was spontaneous, it lacked any pre-meditation and I believe that it was completely out of character.

 Tesco © Provided by Independent Print Limited  Tesco

"The impact upon this on Elsie's mother was clearly evident, very distressing for it to happen to her in the middle of a supermarket."

Judge Goozee also remarked that Hardy's actions amounted to "strange and concerning behaviour" which was "impossible to explain".

He said he had considered a community order but was satisfied the matter could be dealt with by way of fine.

Before he left the dock, Hardy thanked the judge and said: "I'm very sorry, sir."

Outside the courtroom, Duckers's angry family clashed with relatives of the defendant before security had to be called to split them.

Later outside court, Duckers's father, John, said: "He deserves to go to prison. He should have held his hands up.

"£900 for punching a five-day-old baby? He (the judge) might as well have let him off with nothing. Why did they bother bringing him to court?"

Wiping away tears in court, and screened from Hardy, Duckers said she confronted Hardy who denied he had struck the baby.

Duckers said: "It was only when he saw he had marked her that he admitted he had done it but then he said he though it was a doll."

Elsie woke up crying after being punched, she said, and when her partner lifted up her pink woollen hat, there was a red mark "the size of an egg".

The child was monitored in hospital overnight before she was released, the court heard.

Giving evidence, Hardy said he first assumed it was a doll when his wife's work colleague called them over in "a childish voice" to look at the baby.

He said the seven-year-old girl "looked bored" and he asked her: "Is that your baby?"

He said: "She didn't reply and I said 'I'm going to wake your baby up'.

"I thought it was a doll. I thought it was the little girl's doll. I realise now it was not, but at the time..."

He added: "I was just messing around to lighten the mood."

He conceded it was "wholly inappropriate" and in hindsight there was nothing playful about his actions.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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