River rage mother who left boy permanently scarred after hitting him with a paddle avoids jail
River rage mother who left boy permanently scarred after hitting him with a paddle is handed a suspended sentence (Picture: BPM)

A mum who permanently scarred a boy after hitting him in the face with a boat paddle after a heated confrontation has received a suspended sentence.

Fay Johnson, 32, was paddle-boarding with her family at Conham River Park in Bristol last year when she encountered a group of around 20 to 30 ‘unruly’ children who were allegedly throwing mud and rocks at people boating on the river.

After her daughter was hit by a rock, Johnson became enraged and went over to confront the group about their behaviour, where she encountered Antwon Forrest, 12, who ‘stood up’ to the angry mum.

The two parties exchanged heated comments and started pushing each other – then Johnson used the paddle in her hand to hit Antwon in the face, causing a 1cm-long cut which had to be glued shut.

‘She had clearly lost it, and she was very, very angry at the time,’ prosecutor Ehsanul Oarith told Bristol Crown Court.

Johnson was arrested after witnesses called the police, and admitted actual bodily harm at a previous hearing in March last year.

The incident was initially classed as racially motivated, but these charges were thrown out by the judge.

Police have gone back on their decision to stop investigating a woman who allegedly hit an autistic boy with a paddle ?because he was black?. Antwon Forrest, 12, was playing with friends at Conham River Park, Bristol, when a woman reportedly had a go at them and accused them of throwing mud balls in the lake. Antwon?s dad Tyron claims the woman then hit his son with a boat paddle, leaving him with a bloody face and a deep cut. The boy?s aunt, Antonia, believes her nephew was targeted on March 26, because he was ?the only black boy in the group?.
Fay Johnson attacked 12-year-old Antwon Forrest with a paddle after a group of children started throwing rocks at her during a boating trip (Picture: Facebook/Antonia Shanice)

Johnson, whose address has been withheld following online threats to her and her family, was eventually handed a four-month jail term, suspended for six months, and was forced to pay Antwon a £500 victim surcharge.

Representing Johnson, who wept throughout the hearing, Emma Martin described her client as a devoted mum and stepmum who was ‘ashamed, desperately embarrassed and remorseful’.

Ms Martin said Johnson’s ‘protective maternal instinct spilt over into rage’ after her daughter was hit by one of the rocks being thrown by some of the children.

‘She realised they were throwing things not at her but they seemed to be directed at the children. One of those missiles hit her daughter,’ she told the court.

Judge Edward Burgess told a tearful Johnson: ‘I recognise that the act of violence was wholly out of character for you.

‘Unruly behaviour by a large group of youngsters sets the context, but it in no way justifies it as I think you fully accept.’

Antwon was left with a deep cut following the assault which may leave a permanent scar (Picture: BPM)
Antwon was left with a deep cut following the assault which may leave a permanent scar (Picture: BPM)
Fay Johnson leaves Bristol Crown Court. Bristol. 12 January 2023. See SWNS story SWMRpaddle. A woman who assaulted a 12-year-old boy with a paddle on a riverbank has narrowly avoided jail. Fay Johnson, 32, attacked the youngster who suffered an injury to his head during the incident on the banks of the River Avon in Bristol last March. The child and friends were playing near the water when they were confronted by Johnson who told them off. Police initially took no action - which lead to accusations of racial bias as the lad was the only black child in the group.
Johnson was handed a four-month suspended sentence and declined to comment as she left the court (Picture: SWNS)

‘You struck him in the forehead with a very large paddle, causing a nasty injury which bled heavily at the time and left a visible scar.

‘Every time he looks in the mirror as he grows up, throughout his life, it will be a constant reminder of what you did to him.

‘I am satisfied it was not in any way racially motivated. I accept this was an impulsive act of violence.’

When delivering the verdict, the judge acknowledged the defendant’s good character before the offence, her remorse, her personal circumstances and that she had ‘already suffered significantly’.

Johnson was forced to change jobs and move house due to the backlash she received online, which saw her receive a torrent of ‘terrifying’ abuse.

Speaking outside court, Antwon’s grandma Tania Palmer and aunt Antonia Forrest said they did not want Johnson to go to prison but were surprised the sentence had not been longer.

They expressed concern about the threats Johnson and her family had received, adding they were disappointed the case had not been dealt with sooner.

Miss Forrest, speaking about her nephew, said: ‘He was so traumatised. It has terrified him.’

Johnson declined to give a comment as she left the court.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.