Thursday, 28 February 2008

Dad denies abuse claims as stepson says he's sorry

A MAN who was critically stabbed by his stepson has denied a string of claims of physical abuse, saying he was blameless but admitting having used a belt to discipline him.

John McRae told the District Court on various occasions his stepson David O'Neil-Shaw had threatened him with a cricket bat, wrestled him to the ground and grabbed him by the neck. At 15, he had crashed the family car into a pole.

Mr McRae said he had attended O'Neil-Shaw's concerts and sports functions, taken him on holidays, paid for courses and given him gifts including a watch and a David Jones gift certificate.

In the District Court yesterday, he accepted an apology from O'Neil-Shaw for the stabbing in January last year, which was contained in a letter tendered by his stepson's barrister, Stuart Littlemore, QC. O'Neil-Shaw has admitted the attack but denied he intended to murder his stepfather, arguing he was not able to form such an intention because of the years of abuse, and the effect of drugs and alcohol.

The court heard that before the stabbing O'Neil-Shaw had sent his mother a text saying he never wanted to see her and "that thing that you married" again. "God punish you two dirty pieces of trash … Time for me to get some of my own back … See you in court," the message read.

Mr McRae told the court his stepson had difficulties because of his parents' divorce, and had academic and behavioural problems and difficulties with drugs and alcohol.

His voice broke as he described the aftermath of the attack as his injuries were treated.

Mr McRae denied fearing that publicity would affect his career.

"You say you behaved blamelessly," Mr Littlemore asked.


Mr McRae denied having struck his stepson with a piece of timber, punching his face, kicking him in the testicles, locking him into the laundry, tearing out his earring or throwing him down stairs. O'Neil-Shaw sobbed as the allegations were put to Mr McRae, who admitted only to smacking him with an open hand. But later he admitted "using a belt in moderation, but on very rare occasions", two or three times on his stepson. "I've used it with intention of emphasising the seriousness of their behaviour," he said

A doctor's report had noted bruises on the children consistent with them being hit with a belt buckle, but Mr McRae said he had "never ever used a belt buckle in any way on a child".

After the incident, he changed his methods of discipline and did not use a belt again.

He also denied calling O'Neil-Shaw a loser, a no-hoper and a failure. He had told him he would never amount to anything, but as "encouragement" to motivate him.

The case continues.


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