Rian Birtwell, 23, is given a conditional discharge after holding down six-year-old Alfi Cook who told him to ‘f*** off’
Rian Birtwell, 23, spotted six-year-old Alfi Cook’s behaviour in a park near his home and confronted him.
Birtwell had seen the boy kick an elderly man’s cane and told him to stop – but the youth told him to “f*** off” and called him a “gay boy”, a court heard.
Birtwell then walked into a nearby shop and bought a three pack of soap and pinned the boy down and stuck a bar in his mouth.
The boy told his family about the incident on April 11 in Washington, Sunderland, and they contacted police.
Birtwell pleaded guilty to assault at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court and was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Jason Smith, mitigating, said: “Rian is walking along the road minding his own business.
“He is a young man who is very affable. He sees the boy run across to an old gentleman with a stick and tries to kick the stick away.
“He remonstrates with him to which the boy – who the police, I have to say, accept that he is slightly out of control and perhaps not the best of young individuals – says to Rian to f*** off.
“Rian says to him to stop swearing and when he doesn’t he says back ‘stop swearing or I will wash your mouth with soap,’ something that used to happen in the good old days.
“He fully accepts in hindsight that that was not the best way to react. All Ryan was trying to do was teach the little boy some manners. Unfortunately, manners are in short supply nowadays.”
The court on Wednesday heard that a witness said Birtwell, of Washington, had been called a “gay boy” by the youth.
The witness heard Birtwell say he was going to buy some soap and “wash his mouth out with it”.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “The injured party was playing in the park which is close to his home address. The defendant approached him and there was an exchange of words.
“The defendant went to a shop and returned with a bar of soap. He pinned the injured party down to the floor and pushed the bar of soap into his mouth.”
Speaking after his conviction, Birtwell said he thought the six-year-old needed to be taught a lesson.
He said he used to babysit for the family and never intended to hurt him.
He told the Sunderland Echo: “I accept what I did was wrong, but I meant no harm, I just thought he needed to be taught a lesson because he behaved so badly and used language no six-year-old should be using.”
‘Kids do that kind of thing’
Speaking after the hearing the boy’s mother Lynne said: “Things are not as bad as have been said.
“I admit that my son swore and he was wrong for that, but like I said to the police at the time, kids do that kind of thing.
“At the end of the day, he is a 23-year-old bloke who has assaulted a six-year-old. The sentence is a joke.”
Peter Bradley, director of Kidscape, which tackles bullying and safeguarding issues in relation to children, said both Birtwell and the boy could learn a lesson.
He said: “I think the main message that people should take from this case is that adults are adults and they should act appropriately when dealing with children.
“If a child is acting in the wrong manner then it has to be dealt with in the appropriate ways.
“In this instance, without doubt Rian was wrong, but hopefully some support has been put in place so that this boy can learn from his actions too.”
Young Alfi with his mother, Lynne (SWNS)