Scout leader acquitted of branding kids on summer camp

A youth leader from scouting club Frans Naerebout in Goes was acquitted of intentionally inflicting injury on three children by branding them during a summer camp in Belgium. Mark B. burned the abbreviation of the scouting club, F. R., onto the kids' backs with a branding iron, NOS reports.

The court in Middleburg did not consider it proven that B. intentionally caused the children serious physical injury, as the Public Prosecutor argued. According to the Prosecutor, B. had a premeditated plan because he brought the branding iron to the camp from home. The victims are two boys and a girl between the ages of 12 and 14 years. They sustained first- and second degree burns, which left them with permanent scarring.

B.'s lawyer argued that his client did not know that the branding iron was hot. He called B.'s actions a "very stupid mistake". The court agreed with the lawyer. "It was not shown that the suspect wanted to teach the children a lesson by causing them burns", the judge said. The fact that B. held the branding iron close to his arm to check the heat, shows that the burns were not intentional, according to the judge. 

The court added that B. is guilty of causing the injuries because of his "gross negligence". But as the Prosecutor only charged him with intentionally inflicting injury, the court could not rule on whether B. should be punished for accidentally inflicting the burns. 

As the man has been acquitted, the children are also not entitled to compensation, the court ruled, according to NOS. 


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