SURREY ONLINE, May 11, 2005.

Father cleared of assault

May 11 2005

A FATHER who was alleged to have had his five-year-old son secretly circumcised has been found not guilty of assault.

At Lewes Crown Court on Thursday last week, the 27-year-old Crawley man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was cleared of a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Lewes Crown Court heard how the Muslim defendant was alleged to have taken his son for the operation without the mother's consent.

The child was the result of a brief relationship and the couple are no longer together.

During the trial at Lewes Crown Court, the defendant said that he wanted his son to have the operation for religious reasons and did not think he was committing a crime.

"I thought being his father I had some rights," he said. "If I had known I was breaking the law I would not have done it."

After deliberating for almost five hours, jurors found him not guilty by a majority verdict.

Judge Richard Brown said the case was unusual and that the result should not prompt other parents to carry out similar actions. "The decision on this case should not be taken by anyone else to act in the same way," he said.

(File created 15 May 2005)