A 69-year-old swimming coach who has been teaching kids for 51 years is facing a ban after being convicted of assaulting a child.
Janet Hewitt vigorously denied the charges that were put to her – that she grabbed a 10-year-old girl by the arm and shouted at her to get changed at the end of a swimming gala – but was found guilty after a trial.
The Mail reports that magistrates described the case as a 'very sad occasion' as they handed Mrs Hewitt a six-month conditional discharge, the lowest sentence available to them.
The coach was accused of bruising the child's arm as she grabbed her, but she insists any marks that appeared were due to the girl running into her – a version of events which was backed up by a witness.
The grandmother, from Dorchester, Dorset, said: "I am devastated that after 51 years of teaching, anybody could ever think I could hurt a child.
"Coaching children to swim to their full potential is my life. I am teaching the grandchildren of people I taught 50 years ago.
"I did not touch that child. I was [kneeling] down and she bumped into me. She knocked me over. I held on to a locker to pull myself up and then the mother accused me of grabbing hold of the girl's arm. I didn't do it."
Mrs Hewitt said she was asked to visit Weymouth police station four days after the incident. Ten days after that, she was asked to return, and charged with assault.
The child told prosecutors that Mrs Hewitt grabbed her by the arm and shouted really loudly in her face. She said it 'hurt' her arm, and that she 'bellowed' that she had 'three seconds to get changed', an account which was backed up by the girl's mother who said she witnessed it.
The mum told the court she had 'marched over and told Janet to stop it' and that it had left her 'very shocked and upset'.
Another child said she saw the girl come around the corner and bump into Mrs Hewitt, but had not seen any other physical contact.
The conviction means Mrs Hewitt will no longer be able to volunteer with children or vulnerable adults.
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