A mother forced her 10-year-old son to wear a pair of Shrek ears and a sign that read: "Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief".

The boy was made to wear the sign in a park in Townsville, in northern Queensland, Australia.

The woman was accused of cruelty by other families in the park.

One woman, Diane Mayers, called the child safety hotline after spotting the boy.

She told the Townsville Bulletin: "The boy just kept his head down and was staring at the ground. The parents had gone to all the trouble of printing two copies of the sign – one for the back and one for the front – and laminating them. A lot of work had gone in to it."

She added: "A lot of people walked past and were laughing at him, including boys who would have been his age."

Ms Mayers said that when the boy tried to take off the ears, his mother told him: "Put them back on or I'll smack your head in."

The boy's mother, who has not been named, said: "We've had a process over the last three years of him shoplifting and stealing whatever he can get his hands on,"

She added: "I have taken him to the police station, had the police officers take him around, shown him a paddy wagon, shown him all the cells, shown him the process of being charged."

"I am hoping he has (learnt his lesson), I don't think he will be game to do it again, I really don't but time will tell, soon as I trust him to go out to a shop."