A father-of-two who whipped his sons and threatened to stab them to death unless their schoolwork improved has walked free from court after claiming he did not realise it was illegal.
The man from Blackpool, Lancashire, who cannot be named for legal reasons, used an electric cord with a plug to beat the teenagers. The attack was so severe that one was left bleeding and scarred.
But when he was arrested by police the man, who is originally from The Gambia, said he did not realise such a violent punishment was illegal in Britain.
The man admitted assault and cruelty charges at Burnley Crown Court but was given a suspended jail term after he said he had received similar treatment at the hands of his own father.
Prosecutor Judith McCullough said the boys first came to the attention of education authorities in November 2013, when a member of school staff spoke to the younger child about his behaviour.
Ms McCullough said the school pastoral manager noticed the child became very upset when she said she had to tell his parents.
He said his father would abuse him and that it had happened before.
Concerned for the boy, the headmaster contacted the defendant but was assured no violence would be used.
But months later, in January 2013, the boy returned to the pastoral manager and told her how his father had whipped him after he took the wrong bus and was late coming home, the court heard.
Child protection officers became involved after the older boy admitted his father beat his brother.
The younger boy said his mother thought he had lied about getting the wrong bus home and that he was actually late home because he had been in the park, the prosecutor told the court.
The woman told the defendant, who later attacked the boys as they were doing their homework.
Ms McCullough said: 'His father came into the room with an electrical cable. His older brother stood up and he was struck twice on the stomach and back.
'The defendant then began to hit the younger child with the cable
'Their father told them he would stab them to death with a knife.'
Ms McCullough said that when the defendant was interviewed by police, he told officers he had moved to Britain to give his sons a better education.
The defendant said he felt he 'didn't want to beat his sons' but felt he had 'no choice' after the school phoned him about his younger child's behaviour, the prosecutor told the court.
She said: 'The defendant said he had lost his temper and hit both boys with the cable. He also agreed he had told them he would stab them and said that was just to scare them.
'They would know it wouldn't happen. He said he didn't know it would be illegal to act in this way in this country.' The victims were video interviewed.
Miss McCullough told the court the younger boy had said he had previously been struck with a cable and slapped. He claimed he had been beaten 50 times over 18 months.
Ms McCullough said: 'The prosecution would not suggest that resulted in 50 individual assaults, but it's clear there was a course of conduct.'
The child told police of one incident when he was left scarred and bleeding after his father hit his head with the plug of a shaver cable after he refused to allow him to shave his hair.
Miss McCullough said the younger boy was examined by a doctor. He had several injuries, but couldn't remember how some of them had occurred.
In mitigation, defence counsel Waheed Omran-Barber said of the father: 'He firmly believed he was acting in the best interests of his children.
This isn't a case where he was neglecting to feed them, where he was being cruel for the sake of being cruel.'
Mr Omran-Barber said when the man lived in Africa he never went to school, didn't have shoes and was under the control and command of his own father.
He continued: 'If he misbehaved he would be beaten and he grew up with that ideology in mind.'
Mr Omran-Barber said the school had been phoning the defendant about his younger son's behaviour and that there came a point where he resorted to punishing the child.
His two children no longer wanted anything to do with him, it was said.
Mr Omran-Barber said: 'The defendant is very deeply saddened about that.
'There is nothing he can do about it because of the nature of these offences.
'The two children he brought from Gambia and thought he was making a better life for have effectively now left him to live their lives and that isn't something he will be able to get over very quickly, if at all.
'These offences were borne out of a genuine concern his children were going down the wrong path, not paying attention to school work and hanging around in parks. He simply didn't access the right authorities to do something about it.'
The father was given a year in jail, suspended for 18 months, with 12 months' supervision.
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said: 'Physical chastisement of this kind is wholly unacceptable and illegal. There's really no mitigation in your saying you were ignorant of the law.'
'It cannot and must not be said in any way what you did was acceptable. But you have pleaded guilty and that's a significant feature in a case like this, particularly in saving your younger son from having to give evidence.
'You have shown genuine remorse and you have been, it seems to me, affected by the serious consequences for your family.'