A ROOFER has gone on trial accused of mistreating a child - by breaking wind in his face.

Gary McKenzie denies the disgusting prank but says he once broke wind in front of the boy's face accidentally, which he said was funny.

Prosecutor Paul Abrahams told Teesside Crown Court that if the incident had taken place in a rugby club after the victim had drunk ten pints it may have been dismissed as horseplay, but in McKenzie's case it amounted to cruelty.

The charge McKenzie faces states: "At Darlington in the County of Durham, being a person who had attained the age of 16 years, you wilfully ill-treated the child, namely by breaking wind in his face, in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health Contrary to section 1(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933."

The Northern Echo: TRIAL: Gary McKenzie from Darlington pictured at an earlier hearing

Gary McKenzie from Darlington pictured at an earlier hearing

He faces three other charges - that he punched the boy on the arm and 'sucked' his eye while "play-fighting" and that he held a pillow over the face of another child, which he also put down to "playing."

Mr Abrahams told the jury on Wednesday the acts of 22-year-old McKenzie, of Beaumont Hill, Darlington, were "cruel and bullying."

Describing the alleged dirty prank, he said the boy, who is under 16 and cannot be identified, had been lying down when McKenzie approached him.

He said: "The boy said that the defendant pumped in his face.

"It might be at a rugby club done to someone who had drunk ten pints and fallen asleep that one might think of this as horseplay.

"But this was a child at the time and was highly inappropriate."

Mr Abrahams said the boy had been upset by the incident and asked McKenzie why he had done it, and was told: "I just wanted to be nasty."

In police interview McKenzie denied the incident, saying he had once broken wind while climbing a flight of steps when the boy had been behind him with his face near his backside.

Mr Abrahams said: "He said this had been funny but denied the incident described.

"Of the incident involving the pillow he said he was just playing. We say this was a cruel act and that he was not just playing."

On two different occasions, McKenzie punched the boy on the arm and sucked his eye, which caused a red ring and then a bruise to appear on the youngster's face, the court was told.

The alleged victim relived his ordeal in a recorded police interview played to the court.

The boy said: "He pumped. He was right next to me and bending down, he was wearing shorts, his shorts were right next to my face.

"I said 'why did you do that?' and he said he did it because he wanted to be nasty."

He said he had seen McKenzie do a similar thing to another child, and told a detective: "He pulled his pants down and pumped right on their face.

"I knew he had pumped because I heard the noise."

McKenzie denied to police he had done either of those acts, describing the actions as "disgusting and disgraceful" and something he would not do.

He denies four charges of child cruelty, and faces a trial trial which is expected to last for the rest of the week.