A man who hit a four-year-old boy leaving him with extensive bruising was sentenced to six months' supervision in Masterton District Court on Thursday.

Masterton man Stanley James Spence, 63, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault on a child.

The court heard the child's mother had returned home on September 7 to find her former partner had hit her four-year-old son, leaving him with extensive bruising.

Spence had admitted hitting the boy with "some force" on her arrival.


The child was "problematically difficult" and had refused to speak to Spence, according to lawyer Peter Stevens.

Judge Tony Walsh said Spence was in a position of trust and what he had done was unacceptable.

"There was a young child who suffered violence directly at your hands," he said.

Spence was no longer in a relationship with the boy's mother and Judge Walsh accepted this was difficult.

He was convicted and sentenced to six months supervision with special conditions such as attending a stopping violence programme.

Spence had been imprisoned for a similar crime in 1994, and had other assault convictions from the 1970s.