A single mother of four, who admitted in court yesterday to burning the hand of her eight-year-old daughter, was sent to prison for three years.
Kamla Ramcharan, 29, was given the sentence despite an appeal by her attorney who said his client was struggling to make ends meet without the help of the father, and had burned the child because she had allegedly stolen money at school for a third time.
However, in imposing the prison term, Chaguanas Magistrate Gillian David-Scotland told the woman: "That is a heinous way to punish a child. This child you give birth to, this child is innocent. She did not ask to come here. What interactions you have with her father have nothing to do with the child."
Ramcharan, in custody since last week, wept as the charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm was read in court.
The maximum penalty for the offence is five years in prison.
According to the charge, on June 16, at Ramcharan's Railway Road, Longdenville home, Ramcharan held the child's hand on a hot tawah, a circular flat iron skillet used to make roti.
The court prosecutor, Sgt Jackman, said a teacher at the Montrose Vedic Primary School had called Ramcharan from the Montrose Vedic School and informed her that the child had allegedly stolen money from a classmate. He said Ramcharan later went to the school and took her daughter home.
In a statement given to police by Ramcharan, the mother said the girl denied stealing money.
Sgt Jackman said, "She (Ramcharan) then lit a burner of the stove and placed a tawah on it and held (the girl's) left hand and placed the same onto the hot tawah."
He said the child tried to break free by pulling away, but she was overpowered by her mother.
Jackman said Ramcharan then moved the tawah and attempted to put the child's hands over the flames (of the stove), but the child screamed and was released.
Sgt Jackman said on June 19, the child's father visited the home, and took the girl for medical attention at the Paediatric Unit of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.
He said on June 21 when officers went to Ramcharan's home, she said, "Ah not sorry for what I did. I sure she not going to steal again."
Ramcharan was arrested and taken to the Chaguanas Police Station.
Ramcharan's attorney Edmond Subryan asked yesterday that the magistrate consider that his client did not waste the court's time.
He said Ramcharan is a single mother with four children; ages seven to 14 years old. He said one child wrote the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination and was awaiting the result.
Subryan said this was the third time that the child had stolen money and Ramcharan contacted her father, but he don't play a part in the child's life.
The injured child has been taken in by her father. Ramcharan's other children will be cared for by her relatives, the Express was told.