When we think people are beginning to wake up to the various forms of violence that can destroy a child's life; when 'tougher choices' are being debated by politicians, we get a clear message from our courts - yet again - that the judiciary are asleep at the wheel.

Judge Mary Peters has given 20-year-old James Robert Hall a paltry year on home detention for his sadistic and cruel "care-giving" of his five-month-old daughter, which included breaking her legs in five places.

He admitted his guilt, and was 17 at the time of the offending, and for these two factors, got the pathetic starting point of three-years-three-months cut back to the point where the "punishment" has become virtually meaningless.

A man (or woman) who can, with obvious intent and possible pleasure, break a baby's legs, is not a normal human being. Most 17-year-olds would never do this to a baby. This man is disturbed. He's not allowed near his own partner and daughter for a year, but there is nothing to stop him fathering more children, even while on home detention. He's got many more years of fertility ahead. God help us.

It seems that if you are a sex offender there is no end to the hue and cry your movements cause, which is as it should be. But when will we - and our judiciary - take on board the fact that a violence is every bit as ruinous and indefensible? Where is the "child abusers" register? The public meetings? The shame?

Sometimes it is hard to understand where Garth McVicar and co are coming from, but they are certainly, slowly winning the PR fight to have some sunlight thrown on the workings of the judiciary - and it's judgements like this that underscore their points perfectly. If James Robert Hall comes before the courts again for child abuse - and who would bet on the fact he won't? - it would be nice to think that Judge Mary Peters might have to answer for this absolutely ridiculous decision - one that essentially says a young man's on-going ability to train as a decorator is far more important than the safety and sanctity of a helpless baby entrusted to his care.

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