Man who forced soap into boy’s mouth says child ‘needed to be taught a lesson’

Rian Birtwell
Rian Birtwell
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The man convicted of assault for shoving a bar of soap into a six-year-old boy’s mouth said he thought Alfi Forsyth “needed to be taught a lesson”.

Rian Birtwell, 23, a qualified joiner currently out of work, has known the boy since he was a baby.

Alfi Forsyth, 6, from Washington.

Alfi Forsyth, 6, from Washington.

Read more: ‘It’s up to me to punish him’ – mum speaks out after son’s mouth washed with soap for swearing and kicking

He said: “I know Alfi and his mum Lynne very well, I used to babysit for him when he was younger.

“I accept what I did was wrong, but I meant no harm I just thought he needed to be taught a lesson because he behaved so badly and used language no six-year-old should be using.

“I was playing football with my friends out on Barmston Park near where we live and Alfi was out with some younger friends.

I realise in this day and age that it was wrong bought I thought he needed to be taught a lesson.

Rian Birtwell

“It was 7.30 at night and when I was his age I’d have been bathed and in bed by that time but he was still out.

“An old man was walking across the park using a stick, he was very unsteady on his feet but Alfi ran over to him.

“He was pretending to kick away the old man’s stick and although he was aiming his kicks wide of the stick I was worried he’d make the old man fall over.

Rian, originally from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, added: “I went over and said “Alfi stop that or I will tell your Mam.” If someone had said that to me at his age it would have been enough but he just reacted with a load of abuse.

Lynne Forsyth with her son Alfi, 6, from Washington.

Lynne Forsyth with her son Alfi, 6, from Washington.

“He told me to F off and said: “my mam doesn’t f***ing like you anyway.”

“Then he told me “f*** off back to Manchester.” Literally every sentence contained an F word.

“I told him I would wash his mouth out with soap and his response was “you wouldn’t f***ing dare.”

“I realise in this day and age that it was wrong bought I thought he needed to be taught a lesson.

“I went over to the shop and bought a pack of three bars of Imperial Leather soap and I got hold of Alfi.

“I wasn’t rough with him but I rubbed a bar of soap against his teeth without even taking the wrapper off it.

“I didn’t want to hurt him but I wanted him to remember not to speak like that.

“It happened to me when I was a kid. I swore in front of my mum and she chased me. I tried to get away and she dragged me back down the stairs and rubbed a bar of soap in my mouth.

“It didn’t harm me and it taught me not to do it again. There’s nothing wrong with old fashioned discipline but I accept it wasn’t my ace to discipline Alfi, I went too far and that’s why I pleaded guilty.

“He wasn’t some random stranger, I knew him very well, but it was still a wrong thing to do and I spoke to Lynne to say i meant no malice.”

His mum Linda, 43, said: “In my day people got carbolic rubbed in their mouths if they used foul language and it never hurt a soul.

“I was a single mum with three kids who ran a family fish and chip restaurant, I brought my children up with proper values.

“Perhaps they were old fashioned values but they worked.

“I’m not condoning what Rian did when I discovered what happened I raised the roof in this house.

“He rang me from the police station to say what had happened and I refused to pick him up I told him to walk home.

“It was a daft thing to do bit questions have to be asked about the way Alfi behaved and why he was even out at that time.”

Her husband, Rian’s stepdad James Reed, 31, a carer, said: “society is so different now because there is no discipline. If that had happened a few years ago it would have been seen as a valuable lesson to show respect to your elders but of course the world has changed and it’s not necessarily for the better.”