UPDATE: Swimming coach Janet Hewitt loses bid to clear name

Swimming coach Janet Hewitt in bid to clear name after conviction for assault

Swimming coach Janet Hewitt in bid to clear name after conviction for assault

First published in News
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A SWIMMING coach's appeal to clear her name has been dismissed by a judge.

Janet Hewitt, then head coach of the West Dorset Warriors, was found guilty of assault by beating following a trial at Weymouth Magistrates Court in October.

At an appeal hearing against the conviction at Bournemouth Crown Court today, Judge Peter Johnson described the incident as a 'fleeting aberration' in Hewitt's 'impeccable character' and said he hoped it wouldn't cause 'irrepairable harm' to her acting as a swimming coach.

Mrs Hewitt was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 towards costs and the conviction meant she would no longer be able to volunteer with children or vulnerable adults.

At an appeal hearing against the conviction and sentence at Bournemouth Crown Court yesterday, a ten-year-old girl gave evidence that Hewitt, 69, grabbed her arm, leaving a bruise or red mark, and ‘bellowed’ in her face following a swimming gala at Dorchester Sports Centre in April last year.

Hewitt, who has taught youngsters for more than 50 years, denied the allegation.

In an opening statement, prosecutor Anita Gibson-Lee, said: “If you accept the version of events given by the Crown’s witnesses, however you may feel about it, that’s an unlawful use of physical force.”

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court via a video link that she was coming out of the shower into the changing rooms when Hewitt, of Garfield Avenue, Dorchester, grabbed her upper right arm and ‘bellowed’ at her to hurry up.

The incident was also allegedly witnessed by the victim’s friend and her mother.

The friend, aged 11, said: “There was a grab. I can’t remember where on the arm it was but there was a grab.”

The girl's mother gave evidence that she had witnessed the event, and told Hewitt to get away from her child. She told the court she saw Hewitt take hold of the victim’s arm.

She said: “Janet was aggressive and unpleasant. I was absolutely stunned.”

She said: “It felt like a lifetime. I think she was even spitting at one point. Her face was puce and she was grabbing and screeching at my little girl.”

But the girl’s mother also admitted she had spoken about the incident to a senior police officer – who is a personal friend – before reporting the incident.

A scenes of crime officer from Dorset Police photographed the injury and noted a bruise in the area measuring 10mm by 10mm.

A recording was played to the court when the matter was reported on the evening the offence is alleged to have taken place.

Cross-examining the victim, Rufus Taylor, speaking in Hewitt’s defence, said: “Do you think the word ‘bellowed’ came from your mum rather than you?”

The victim said she had heard her mother use the term in the car on the way home from the gala.

Giving her own evidence, Hewitt said she had been bending down to pick up a sock from the floor when the girl came around the corner ‘not running but quite fast’.

She added: “She sort of bumped into me. I put my left hand up, which might have contacted her right shoulder.

“I thought if I hadn’t steadied myself I might have fallen over.”

In cross examination, Miss Gibson-Lee asked why Hewitt did not offer this version of events in her first police interview.

Hewitt said: “I was in a state of shock.”

Miss Gibson-Lee said: “What really happened is that you lost your temper, and in doing that you grabbed hold of her and shouted in her face.”

Comments (5)

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12:30pm Fri 28 Feb 14

60plus says...

How very sad that after fifty years it ends like this,could not the mother had a word with the club committee or was she out to get her name in print.
How very sad that after fifty years it ends like this,could not the mother had a word with the club committee or was she out to get her name in print. 60plus
  • Score: 14

1:00pm Fri 28 Feb 14

muscliffman says...

Surely there were many grown-up options to resolve this before it went into a Court room.

Kids can be naughty, people loose their temper and things happen in the heat of the moment, everyone calms down talks it through and apologise, people then get on with their lives. Should incidents like this really be clogging up our legal system, this all seems a bit harsh and unnecessary.
Surely there were many grown-up options to resolve this before it went into a Court room. Kids can be naughty, people loose their temper and things happen in the heat of the moment, everyone calms down talks it through and apologise, people then get on with their lives. Should incidents like this really be clogging up our legal system, this all seems a bit harsh and unnecessary. muscliffman
  • Score: 18

2:10pm Fri 28 Feb 14

swimfast says...

And the Mother was doing what in the changing room? Surley that on it's own is a child protection issue. All a bit to convenient for my liking especially knowing the "history" between the club that Janet coaches and the one that the girl swims for. Good luck this time Janet, the whole of Dorset swimming is wishing you well and hoping the right thing is done this time.
I couldn't agree more to the 2 previous comments!
And the Mother was doing what in the changing room? Surley that on it's own is a child protection issue. All a bit to convenient for my liking especially knowing the "history" between the club that Janet coaches and the one that the girl swims for. Good luck this time Janet, the whole of Dorset swimming is wishing you well and hoping the right thing is done this time. I couldn't agree more to the 2 previous comments! swimfast
  • Score: 10

8:47pm Sat 1 Mar 14

poppy5 says...

Janet Hewitt turned down many opportunities to apologise and end this matter before it reached court. She chose to go to court and was found guilty. This decision and the one to appeal wasted the Court's time and money.

A swimming coach with 50 years experience should know better than most that it is no longer acceptable to manhandle a child, especially with enough force to leave a bruise, whatever the circumstances.

The whole of Dorset swimming do not support her actions.

Time to retire.
Janet Hewitt turned down many opportunities to apologise and end this matter before it reached court. She chose to go to court and was found guilty. This decision and the one to appeal wasted the Court's time and money. A swimming coach with 50 years experience should know better than most that it is no longer acceptable to manhandle a child, especially with enough force to leave a bruise, whatever the circumstances. The whole of Dorset swimming do not support her actions. Time to retire. poppy5
  • Score: -1

3:48pm Sun 2 Mar 14

Huey says...

Just looking at her face you can tell she is a nasty piece of work, you cannot treat kids that way.....
Just looking at her face you can tell she is a nasty piece of work, you cannot treat kids that way..... Huey
  • Score: -1

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