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Janet Hewitt barred from swim coach role after 'moment of madness'
A SWIMMING coach who devoted 50 years to helping youngsters and the disabled will be barred from the role following a ‘moment of madness’.
The court was told that Hewitt, who was head coach for the West Dorset Warriors swimming club, was in the changing rooms following a children’s gala at the Dorchester Sports Centre in April when she grabbed a 10-year-old girl from another club by the arm and shouted at her to hurry up and get changed.
Hewitt, who has been a volunteer coach for more than 50 years and is a former child protection officer for the club, denied the allegations.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was walking away from the showers to the changing rooms when she passed the defendant.
She said: “She grabbed me by the arm. She shouted really loudly and in my face and it hurt my arm.
“She bellowed that I have three seconds to get changed.”
The youngster was left with bruising to her upper arm, the court was told.
But in a police interview read in court Hewitt said: “I was not aggressive. I did say ‘hurry up’ and my voice might have been loud, but I said it in a joking manner.”
Giving evidence, she added: “I did not grab that child.”
The incident was witnessed by the girl’s mother, who said her daughter was ‘like a rabbit in the headlights’.
She added: “I marched over and told Janet to stop it. I was very shocked and upset.”
Later that evening, the mother told Hewitt she had seen the defendant grab the child, which Hewitt immediately denied, the court was told.
Another young witness, aged 13, said she saw the victim come around the corner and bump into Hewitt, but had not seen any physical contact.
Hewitt said: “I think the mum would not have been able to see clearly. I do not think they were wrong, but they might have been mistaken.”
She admitted that, if she was not able to teach swimming, it would have a ‘massive’ impact on her life.
Prosecuting, Robert Weatherley said: “It was one insane moment, a moment of madness that you now no doubt regret.”
Hewitt was handed a six month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 towards costs.
Mitigating, Lee Christmas said the conviction means Hewitt will no longer be able to volunteer with children or vulnerable adults and will also lose her job as a swimming coach.
Until the allegations, Hewitt volunteered for up to 18 hours a week with the club and has taught thousands of children to swim.
Chairman of the bench Harry Barnes said: “It is a very sad occasion in many respects.
“Your record of all you have done for young people and disabled people is something I dare say has not been seen anywhere else.”
Devoted to her teaching
DURING her 50-year career as a swimming coach, Hewitt has trained more than seven swimmers who have represented Great Britain, as well as one who won a Paralympic medal.
She was also involved with the Natterjacks swimming club, teaching the sport to children as young as three.
At one stage she was dedicating 60 hours a week to the Warriors club on a voluntary basis.
In September last year many past and present pupils and parents turned out to hold a surprise event marking her 50th year of coaching at a local, regional and national level.
Hewitt began swimming with the Bournemouth Dolphins and represented the RAF when she joined the service after leaving school.
While serving in the air force, she began teaching swimming.
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