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Disability support worker guilty of assaulting autistic woman

Posted in: Criminal Injury and Assault Medical Negligence Neck Injuries 

Support worker Rachel Portsmouth has been found guilty of placing her hands around the neck of 20-year-old Chante Johnson and of hitting her with a slipper. Chante who has special needs and requires 24 hour care is a resident at Pegasus School, in Caldwell. She suffers from severe autism and has great difficulty communicating. She has no decision making capacity and a very limited awareness of danger. She can also be prone to violent outbursts. The offence took place on 21 February 2015.

“This was a very severe matter”

40-year-old Portsmouth from Sycamore Road, Burton, has been sentenced to a 22-day prison sentence and has been given an £80 victim surcharge. She will undergo a 12-month supervision licence after she leaves prison. Portsmouth had pleaded not guilty until a few hours into her trial when she changed her plea to one of guilty. At the Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court, magistrate Paul Dickerson said: “This was a very severe matter. This was a very vulnerable victim who cannot speak for herself. You were in a position of trust but you attempted strangulation, slapped her, you denied the assault right up to the trial and the language you used was inappropriate”.

In her defence, Julian Gill stated that Portsmouth was in denial when she pleaded not guilty as she had an “exemplary” career for 15 years. She said: “She has lost her job, her career, her self-esteem and the respect of family and friends”.

Colleagues of Portsmouth confirmed that Chante was not being aggressive at the time and had been playfully poking Portsmouth who started shouting and swearing and seemed to lose control of her temper.

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