A man washed a child’s mouth out with soap after the youngster told him to ‘f**k off’ and tried to kick an old man’s walking stick, a court heard.
Angry Rian Birtwell, 23 spotted the six-year-old’s behaviour in a park near his home and confronted him.
Rian had seen the boy kick an old man’s cane and told him to stop – but the youth told him to ‘f**k off’, a court heard.
Rian 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, Alfi told his family about the incident on April 11 in Washington, Sunderland, and they contacted police.
Rian pleaded guilty to assault at Sunderland Magistrates Court and 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 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**k 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.”
Speaking after the hearing the boy’s mum 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.”
Rian has since said the boy – who he used to BABYSIT – “needed to be taught a lesson.”
Rian, 23, a joiner, said: “I know Alfi and his mum Lynne very well, I used to babysit for him when he was younger.
“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.
“I was playing football with my friends out on Barmston Park near where we live and Alfi was out with some younger friends.
“It was 7.30 at night and when I was his age I’d have been bathed and in bed by that time, but he was still out.
“An old man was walking across the park using a stick, he was very unsteady on his feet, but Alfi ran over to him.
“He was pretending to kick away the old man’s stick and although he was aiming his kicks wide of the stick I was worried he’d make the old man fall over.”
Rian, originally from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, added: “I went over and said ‘Alfi stop that or I will tell your Mam’.
“If someone had said that to me at his age it would have been enough but he just reacted with a load of abuse.
“Literally every sentence contained an F word.
“I told him I would wash his mouth out with soap and his response was ‘you wouldn’t f***ing dare’.
“I realise in this day and age that it was wrong but I thought he needed to be taught a lesson. I went over to the shop and bought a pack of three bars of Imperial Leather soap and I got hold of Alfi.”
“I wasn’t rough with him but I rubbed a bar of soap against his teeth without even taking the wrapper off it.
“I didn’t want to hurt him but I wanted him to remember not to speak like that. It happened to me when I was a kid.
“There’s nothing wrong with old fashioned discipline but I accept it wasn’t my place to discipline Alfi, I went too far and that’s why I pleaded guilty.
Alfi’s mum Lynne Forsyth, 36, a personal banker, says her son Alfie did swear but had not been violent toward the OAP.
She said: “I think he [Rian] has made up the old man to defend himself.”
Lynne has lived on the estate in Sunderland for 34 years and has never had any problems like this as it is a ‘tight knit community’.
“My son has got a lot of allergies – asthma and eczema – soap and things aggravate him. He could have had a reaction. Who’s to know?
“Yes, Alfi swore. He was chastised for swearing. He is actually the victim and not the villain.”
The case prompted a mixed response from local people on social media.
Many were quick to point out that children should not be physically assaulted in such a way, while others had sympathy for Birtwell.
Ash Lea wrote: “You can’t physically abuse a child for bad behaviour.”
Sharon Humphries posted: “If this wasn’t his child then he’s in the wrong. It was up to the parents to discipline him.
“Youngsters need to be reminded how to respect their elders, but having said that, at six years old he’s still yet to learn.”
Leanne Askew posted: “That’s an old method. A filthy mouth gets washed with soap.
“Maybe they should be asking why the kid is behaving in such a disgusting age and especially at the age of 6.”