Childminder escapes jail for racial assault on two-year-old
Friday September 16, 2005
A childminder who crayoned the word "******" on the forehead of a two-year-old girl in her care narrowly escaped jail yesterday after a judge accepted pleas that she was "ignorant rather than evil".
Fay Stockley, 57, was told by the recorder of Derby that she had done a "wicked thing" which most people would consider deserved a prison sentence. But he suspended a six-month term for a year on the grounds that she had not understood the nastiness of what she had done.
Stockley made different excuses during her trial at Derby crown court last month, when a jury found her guilty of aggravated racial assault. She first claimed that the word was a private joke between her and the girl, but then changed her story to say that she had meant to write "Tigger," because the child been playing the character in a game based on AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh.
Stockley, who returned to court for sentencing yesterday, thought up the name-crayoning as a way of entertaining a group of children she was minding at her home in Mickleover, near Derby, last year. She scrawled the first names of the others, who were all white, on their foreheads, but then wrote "******" on the little girl's.
The insult was still visible when the child returned home, and police and social workers were called in. Stockley tried to laugh the incident off when first interviewed by officers, claiming that the girl had "pestered" her to use the word instead of her actual name, which cannot be given for legal reasons.
The recorder, John Aucott, told her: "You abused this girl by demonstrating the clearest hostility to her mixed race status by writing the word ****** ... You told the police you only wrote the word because she asked you to and that she often referred to herself as the little black bastard. But where did a young girl get that phrase from? This child was brought up in a climate of neglect, hostility and racial abuse, and it is clear that on this occasion when she was in your care you simply continued the abuse."
Stuart Lody, defending, said in mitigation that Stockley had psychological and intellectual problems but would never have wished to upset or insult a child.
"It is all very well for those of us having the benefit of education to look at the world through more modern and educated eyes," he said. "My client is not equipped with education and intellect to understand the ramifications of her behaviour." Stockley was not registered with Ofsted as a childminder but is likely to face a social services ban on looking after children in future.