Man gets suspended sentence in paddling case

A former New London resident who now lives in Florida received a suspended sentence today after pleading guilty to striking a young boy on the buttocks with a wooden paddle.

Judge Susan B. Handy sentenced David M. Portbury, 27, of Live Oak, Fla. to a year in prison, fully suspended, followed by two years of conditional discharge for third-degree assault.

Prosecutor Rafael I. Bustamante said the state Department of Children and Families received a report in December 2009 that a child had bruises on his buttocks as a result of being struck. Bustamante said an investigation reveled that Portbury paddled the child while babysitting him for a friend.

Portbury’s attorney, Peter D. Catania, said his client doesn’t agree with the state’s allegations but decided to accept the misdemeanor conviction rather than continue flying back and forth from Florida for court proceedings. He said the paddle belonged to the child’s mother and that she had given Portbury permission to use it on the boy.

Also Wednesday, Judge Handy dismissed unrelated charges against Portbury as he was about to go on trial for stealing a necklace and watch from a New London resident in October 2010. Bustamante said he would not be prosecuting Portbury after learning the state had auctioned off the evidence in the case after Portbury’s codefendant in the case pleaded guilty and is serving a 10-month sentence.

“You dodged a bullet, Mr. Portbury,” Handy told him.


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