Published: 00:01, 05 September 2014
A mum who broke a 15-year-old girl’s nose by punching her in the face has spoken of the despair and heartbreak she felt knowing her daughter was being bullied for having cancer.
Stacey Robinson, 36, was given a suspended jail sentence and community service after admitting assaulting the teen during a row in the street shortly after her oldest daughter, Lauren, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Now Mrs Robinson has revealed her shock and disgust at the way bullies treated Lauren, now 18, and said she fears her daughter’s cancer will return.
The mum-of-four, who also has a 15-year-old daughter and two sons aged 13 and 10, said: “We didn’t think Lauren would be here this long. I’m on tenterhooks all the time because we’ve been told the chances of her getting cancer again are very high and if she does there will be no treatment for it.
“We just live every day like it’s a blessing, or we try to, but I’m only human. I think I’ve been made out to be some sort of nasty thug and I’d like to think that’s not how I am.
“Because I’m a grown-up and she was the age she was, that’s all people see. Of course I know hitting a child is wrong but there’s more to the story than people realise.
"I was totally mortified it happened but I had been pleading with police and teachers to do something and they did nothing. You feel like you’re screaming for help and no one is doing anything" - Stacey Robinson
“It doesn’t mean I’m not remorseful. I was totally mortified it happened but I had been pleading with police and teachers to do something and they did nothing. You feel like you’re screaming for help and no one is doing anything.
“There were many times my daughter wanted to give up. That’s why I was trying to talk to the girl. I thought if I spoke to her she might be empathetic and see how it was making us feel.
“I didn’t expect it to escalate into what it did. I didn’t mean to break her nose.”
Mrs Robinson said the girl she punched and her daughter, a pupil at Towers School, were good friends until she was diagnosed with cancer and “all her friends just disappeared”.
She said school staff were “understanding and supportive” but bullying happened when teachers’ backs were turned and the only good friend she had moved away.
Mrs Robinson, of Breadlands Road, Willesborough, continued: “When it happened, Lauren had no hair, because of the cancer treatment. It was hard to get her out of the house. Before she got ill I wouldn’t think people would behave that way – she was ridiculed because she had no hair.
“Once we were walking home and she had a Hickman line – used to administer chemotherapy and other medication when a patient’s veins have collapsed – in her neck and someone tried to pull it out.
“People even accused her of lying about having cancer and shaving her own head.”
Since her trial Mrs Robinson has got a job at a florist and therapy is helping her deal with the feelings of panic she gets when she leaves the house.
But she said she is still struggling to live a normal life and is hoping to move away with her family.
"I’ve become a bit of a recluse. I don’t talk to anybody anymore. I still have panic attacks going out and going to work" - Stacey Robinson
“Ashford is a small place and everybody knows everybody,” she said. “Because of what happened our lives are hell.
“We can’t go shopping or anything without bumping into someone. I’ve become a bit of a recluse. I don’t talk to anybody anymore. I still have panic attacks going out and going to work.
“I just want to move out of the area and try to have a fresh start. My husband isn’t a well man either and I care for him as well.
“It feels like since I came to Ashford I’ve had nothing but bad luck. It would be nice to move near the seaside and not in Kent.”
Mrs Robinson said her daughter struggled with school because of her illness but began studying music with Alternate Creative, a community interest company based in Ashford that offers training and apprenticeships within the creative industries.
She recently sang in a concert organised by the Katie Walker Cancer Trust, set up in memory of a young woman who died from the same type of cancer the Ashford teen had.
Lauren is now in remission for the second time after being diagnosed with germ cell cancer, which developed in her ovaries, when she was 14.
She has check-ups every three months to make sure the cancer has not returned.
“Over-the-top self-defence” was how Robinson’s solicitor described the assault when she appeared at Canterbury Crown Court last week.
The court heard a row between two schoolgirls ended with the Ashford mum punching the 15-year-old, leaving her needing surgery for a broken nose.
The youngsters had fallen out after claims one had made unkind comments to the other after she was diagnosed with cancer.
The judge heard Robinson, who attacked the teenager in Hythe Road, walked up to her victim and said: “Do you think it’s f****** funny to hit my daughter who has cancer? This is how you throw a punch.”
After hitting her victim, Robinson went straight to Ashford police station and reported her actions – despite there being no official complaint at that time.
She told officers the victim had shouted at her daughter: “Ain’t you dead yet?”
Prosecutor Trevor Wright said: “At the time of the offence the cancer was in remission and she and the victim had at one time been friends, but that relationship had broken down.”
He said in March last year the victim and her friends were walking in the street when they saw Robinson walking with her children and decided to cross the road.
Robinson then shouted at the schoolgirl for hitting her daughter.
The victim denied the assault but Robinson replied “that’s b******t” and struck her twice in the face.
Robinson alleged the schoolgirl had grabbed her hair first, forcing her head down and she had lashed out twice, but regretted her actions and was now remorseful.
The victim was later questioned as she received treatment for her broken nose at the William Harvey Hospital. She denied starting the incident.
Mr Wright said the girl is still suffering from her injury and will have to wait until she is 18 before she can receive corrective rhinoplasty surgery to her nose.
James Keeley, defending, said Robinson had suffered mentally because of the cancer threat to her daughter.
Judge Nigel Van der Bijl told Robinson: “This is a serious incident and somebody may be left with a permanent injury but at least you went straight to the police and admitted what you had done.”
Stories you might have missed
More by this authorSuz Elvey