Published: 00:00, 13 October 2016
| Updated: 16:35, 13 October 2016
A woman who was spotted by a neighbour's friend mistreating a disabled child she was fostering has been spared a jail sentence.
The man was shocked to see the woman slapping the eight-year-old boy around the face, force feeding him and yanking his head down.
The witness was at the friend’s house in Edenbridge when he looked out of the bathroom window and saw the ill-treatment in the kitchen of the house opposite.
“The first couple of blows were so disturbing I had to question what I was looking at,” he told a jury at Maidstone Crown Court. “After that there was no doubt in my mind.”
He called two others to the window to show them what was happening.
The boy suffered from various medical problems including severe epilepsy. He wore a padded helmet and had special needs. He was unable to communicate.
The 57-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, became his foster carer because his parents were unable to look after him.
During the incident in January 2014, the witness saw the woman slap the child on both sides of the face with her palm and the back of her hand.
She also took hold of the helmet, pulled his head back and forced food into his mouth with her fingers.
“He saw this sequence several times,” said prosecutor Helen McCormack. “He was shocked by what he saw.”
The woman denied cruelty to a child, but was convicted in August.
She was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work. She will also have to pay a £1,000 fine at the rate of £100 a month.
Recorder David Jeremy QC told her: “Your reaction to treating a vulnerable child in this way was to lie throughout. You refused to accept the jury’s verdict despite clear and overwhelming evidence.
“You have chosen to hide away in a state of delusional denial. I have no doubt you present a continuing risk to anyone who opposes you.”
The judge was given an assurance that the woman would not be allowed to foster any other children.