In what appears to be a first in WA , a Geraldton man has been convicted of tattooing or branding a child.
On 25 July 2013 Gregory STEWART, a 28 year old male from Geraldton pleaded guilty in Geraldton Magistrates Court on two counts of ‘Tattooing or branding a child’ under the provisions of the Children and Community Services Act 2004.
During school holidays, between late April and early May 2013 Mr STEWART tattooed two 14 year old children without seeking any permission from their respective parents. The tattooing was done in a private residence, and Mr STEWART was not affiliated with any professional tattooing business or operation.
As part of the investigation police located and seized the tattooing equipment used to tattoo the children.
Upon his plea of guilty Mr STEWART was fined $1000.00 on each count and an application for the destruction of the tattooing equipment was granted.
It is understood that this is the first time a person has been charged pursuant to this legislation.
After speaking with Geraldton Police, Everything Geraldton has learned that the parents of the children in question were alarmed when they discovered what had occurred and contacted the Department of Child Protection and Family Services (DCPFS).
DCPFS informed the police, who needed to research the legislation as this was the first time an incident like this had been taken so far.
Technically an ear piercing could be breaking the law
While it may be common for under 18 year olds to get piercings or tattoos, it is technically against the law to pierce, brand or tattoo a minor without the consent of the parent.
Detective Longhorn from the Geraldton Police said it was not the intention of the Police Department to start pursuing every minor who had a their ears pierced without their parent's consent, but admitted that it was technically breaking the law to pierce a 17 year old's ears without being permitted to by the person's parents.
The maximum penalty for branding, piercing or tattooing a child is 12 months prison and/or a $12,000 fine.
While the $1000 (per offence) fine given the man in this case seems low by comparison, the parents stated they were happy the matter was dealt with and an outcome was achieved.
Detective Longhorn also mentioned that not only was there a problem with the fact that this happened to minors, but the health risks needed to be taken into account as well.
Floodgates could open
It's unknown what could happen now this precedent has been set in Geraldton. Many a parent has had a child come home with a tattoo or a naval piercing they disapproved of, but have felt powerless to do anything about it. Knowing that they can have the person who did it charged may open a floodgate of parents requesting the police press charges against those who have pierced, tattooed or branded their child.