A drug-abusing Scottsdale man who subjected an autistic child to horrendous abuse is behind bars.
27-year-old Joseph Edward Auton pleaded guilty to ill-treating a child over a number of weeks, having used duct tape to bind and gag the then-three-and-a-half-year-old, beating him so severely he was covered with bruises and open wounds.
The court heard the child's mother felt controlled by Auton and police were only notified when her sister intervened.
Justice Robert Pearce described the conduct as "merciless cruelty" before handing down a three-and-a-half year prison sentence, with the chance of parole after two.
"His conduct included repeatedly striking the child on his bare skin, including when the defendant was wearing rings, with such force as to break the skin," said Justice Pearce in sentencing.
"The child's blood was found to be present on the defendant's rings when they were examined and analysed. His blood was also found on the floor of the shed at the property.
"The defendant repeatedly restrained the child by applying duct tape to bind his hands, both in front of and behind his body, and on occasions struck him when he was so bound.
"He taped the child's mouth with duct tape supposedly to keep him quiet and stop his crying. On one occasion, to stop M from screaming, the defendant placed the child naked inside a drum in the shed and ran a tap over his head so that he had difficulty breathing."