An ice cream man has pleaded guilty to punching a 12-year-old boy, after the child helped himself to free Mr Whippy from the van.

Alan Donaldson, 58, lost his temper when the kid asked for a free ice cream, and if he could pull the dispenser handle on the Mr Whippy machine.

Donaldson then apparently replied ‘Only if you want a smack’, which was when the boy jumped up to reach over the counter, pulling the lever so that ice cream poured all over the floor of the ice cream van.

Guernsey Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday that Donaldson had ‘not had a good day‘, and didn’t intend to lash out at the child.

Donaldson immediately told the boy he didn’t actually mean to strike him, saying: “I didn’t mean to hit you, I thought you were further away.”

But he had hit the child with a clenched fist, breaking one of his teeth in the process.

The boy left to tell his mother what had happened, but Donaldson also turned himself in at the police station – where he told officers he’d only meant to scare the boy away.

After pleading guilty at court on Monday, Donaldson was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.

In mitigation, Advocate Sam McDonald, defending, said that Donaldson had been sent many message of support from islanders via social media.

She added: “What has come to light is that he is a very well-respected member of this community.

“Quite simply he had not had a good day. While this did not excuse Donaldson’s action, it did explain it.

“On that day the van he would normally use had broken down so he had to operate from an alternative one in which the cooling system was broken so he had been working in 30C temperatures.”

She also said Donaldson had always had a good rapport with the children he served, and that he was used to dealing with boisterous or ‘cheeky’ youngsters.

“This was a one-off out of character incident,” McDonald said, also explaining that Donaldson had immediately taken responsibility for his actions.

Judge Graham McKerrell gave Donaldson credit for his early guilty plea, saying that he would treat the ice cream man as a person of good character.

Passing sentence, McKerrell said he was prepared to treat the matter as a one-off, but still had to take into consideration the severity of what had happened.

He told Donaldson: “‘One cannot go around, in any circumstances, striking 12-year-old boys.

“It may well be that you had a stressful and difficult day and were using a different van.

“None of that excuses what happened.”

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