A woman who attacked a partially sighted woman in Eastbourne has been jailed, while her mother has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
The 55-year old victim, who needs a guide dog because of her limited sight, was assaulted and punched in the head a number of times while out walking her guide dog in October 2014.
A woman was charged with the assault, but two months later on her way back home from visiting local shops, the victim was confronted by the same person and her mother, when abuse was yelled at her.
At Lewes Crown Court on Thursday, Roxanne Cole, 26, of Wildwood, Eastbourne, was sentenced to a total of nine months in jail after pleading guilty to assault by beating, and intimidating a witness, while her mother Julia Foulds, 46, of the same address, was given a four month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, with a 12 month supervision order, after she pleaded guilty to intimidating a witness.
The court also issued a Restraining Order under the Protection from Harassment Act, until further notice, prohibiting both women from approaching the victim, and her guide dog.
Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS South East, Kris Venkatasami, said, “Any attack on a vulnerable and disabled victim is appalling, but in this case, the terrifying assault suffered by this victim has had a long lasting and devastating impact on her.
“As a result of the defendant’s actions, she has had to move home, taking her away from her support network of both family and friends.
“Her guide dog was so badly affected by the attack that he has required further training and the victim has had the additional worry that he may not have been able to continue in her service
“This case highlights just how much of an impact disability hate crime can have on victims and how important it is such incidents are reported to the police, so they can be prosecuted.
“We know victims are sometimes reluctant to come forward because they fear repeat victimisation. In this particular case, that is exactly what the victim suffered.
“Now those responsible for the original attack and for the intimidation that followed have been brought to justice.”
Sussex Police’s Hate Crime Sergeant, Peter Allan, said, “Hate crime is a key priority for Sussex Police, but disablist hate is a particular focus because of the difficulties in identifying such hate-based behaviour, along with the additional challenges faced by some disabled people in being able to assist the police and other agencies.
“This violent attack on a partially sighted victim by Roxanne Cole was compounded by the subsequent witness intimidation by both Roxanne and Julia Foulds.
“I hope this case and the sentence imposed by the court sends a strong and clear message to those who perpetrate hate crime that the Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service will take robust action to hold offenders to account.
I also hope this case gives confidence to victims of any form of hate-based behaviour to report it to the police.
“You can report hate crime by calling Sussex Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. You can also report online via our website bit.ly/1fTDYJh”
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