A restaurant worker put a three-year-old girl in a deep freezer as a punishment for being ‘naughty’, a court has heard.
Bangladeshi-born Mohammed Hussain, 48, is alleged to have put the girl in the top of a large chest freezer before putting the lid wholly or partially down on her on several occasions.
He also reportedly threw a hot drink over a ten-year-old girl, hit a three-year-old boy with a coat hanger and would regularly lash out at the children if they were too noisy.
Hussain denies nine counts of cruelty against four different children, It is alleged he hit three girls and boy aged between three and 12 with sticks, sandals and belts.
Hussain is also charged with causing aggravated bodily harm to a 42-year-old woman by hitting her in the face with a wooden spoon, which he denies.
Jeremy Hill-Baker, prosecuting, told a Sheffield Crown Court jury: ‘The prosecution says that is an act of misguided punishment. The defendant would pick up the girl and put her in the freezer.
‘He would not do this for any extended time perhaps for a minute but you will perhaps agree it is a frightening prospect.
‘One witness said she saw him putting the little girl in there on two occasions. He said she had been naughty.’
Jurors were shown pictures of the freezer and then watched a recorded interview with a woman who claimed to be present when the child was put in the freezer cabinet.
She said through an interpreter: 'He put the little girl in the deep freezer.
‘I asked him: "What if she died? What did she do to you? Is this how you treat children? "He promised not to do it again. But he did it again.
I told him if I hadn't been watching he would have killed her.’
The incidents came to light after the eldest child, now 15, told a school learning mentor in March, 2009.
Hussain was arrested but denied everything. He said the allegations were concocted because of a dispute over money.
Mr Hill-Baker said the crux of the case was whether Hussain ‘wilfully assaulted’ the children.
Hussain, who has been living in the UK for 16 years, also faces nine lesser charges of battery as an alternative to the cruelty charges.
The trial continues.