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.”