A GIN Gin man who beat his nine-year-old nephew with a pipe so severely the boy's eyes were swollen shut has narrowly avoided a stay in jail.
The 25-year-old, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the boy, was caring for his young niece and nephew in November last year when the first attack took place.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Hayley Glover said the two young children were with their uncle at his home when the phone rang.
"He told them not to answer it because it might be their father asking why he had not taken them home yet," Snr Const Glover said.
The boy told his sister to answer the phone because it would be rude to ignore it, but the man became angry and smacked him over the head with a stick.
The following day, the children were helping the man on his family's farm when he became enraged because the nine-year-old boy was having trouble siphoning water from a water tank.
"He struck him over the head five times with a length of blue PVC pipe," Snr Const Glover said.
"He used two hands to hold the pipe and struck with some force."
The boy told police he felt pain and wanted to cry, but said he knew from past experience that crying would illicit a further beating.
The man then hit the boy another five times over his head.
Snr Const Glover said the boy's head was so swollen from the attack that, soon after, when his parents took him to pony club, they noticed the injuries because they could not fit his helmet on his head.
Later, his eyes were swollen shut from bruising.
"The defendant expressed remorse and said he did not know his own strength," Snr Const Glover said.
"The defendant has no criminal history."
Barrister Nick Larter represented the man, who pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court on Friday to two counts of assault causing bodily harm, and said his client suffered from anxiety and stress.
"The seriousness of this incident is not lost on (the defendant)," Mr Larter said.
"What happened was the result of his losing control due to anxiety and stress issues. (He) has taken steps to deal with this matter."
Mr Larter said his client formerly had a very good relationship with his niece and nephew, even buying a pony and horse for them.
"In my submission, he is a person unlikely to come back before the court," he said.
Magistrate Jennifer Batts sentenced the 25-year-old to nine months probation for the first attack, with no conviction recorded, and four months jail wholly suspended for 12 months for the second attack.
"The effect on your nephew ...would be considerable and difficult for any one of us to wholly appreciate," Ms Batts said.
"You had a former good relationship with the child, which you have very negatively affected."