Bristol: Mother who hits boy in face with paddle is spared in prison

River Rage mom who left boy permanently scarred after hitting him with a paddle avoids jail

The River Rage mother, who left the boy permanently scarred after hitting him with a paddle, is sentenced to probation (Image: BPM)

A mother who permanently scarred a boy after hitting him in the face with a boat paddle after a heated argument has been given a suspended sentence.

Fay Johnson, 32, was paddling with her family in Bristol’s Conham River Park last year when she encountered a group of around 20 to 30 “unruly” children who were said to be throwing mud and stones at boaters on the river .

After her daughter was hit by a rock, Johnson became angry and went over to confront the group about their behavior, where she met Antwon Forrest, 12, who “standed up” to the angry mother.

The two parties exchanged heated comments and began shoving each other – then Johnson used the paddle in her hand to smack Antwon in the face, causing a 1cm cut that had to be taped shut.

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

Johnson was arrested after witnesses called police and admitted to actual assault at a previous hearing in March last year.

The incident was initially classified as racially motivated, but these allegations were dropped by the judge.

Police have reversed their decision to drop an investigation into a woman who allegedly hit an autistic boy with a paddle,

Fay Johnson attacked 12-year-old Antwon Forrest with a paddle after a group of children threw stones at her during a boat trip (Image: Facebook/Antonia Shanice)

Johnson, whose address was withheld following online threats against her and her family, was ultimately sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for six months, and had to pay a £500 victim’s surcharge to Antwon.

Representing Johnson, who cried during the hearing, Emma Martin described her client as a devoted mother and stepmother who was “ashamed, desperately embarrassed and remorseful.”

Ms Martin said Johnson’s “protective maternal instinct gave way to anger” after her daughter was hit by one of the rocks thrown by some of the children.

“She realized that they weren’t throwing things at her but appeared to be aimed at the children. One of those missiles hit her daughter,” she told the court.

Judge Edward Burgess told a tearful Johnson: “I recognize that the act of violence was totally out of character for you.

“Unruly behavior by a large group of youngsters sets the context but it doesn’t justify it in any way, as I think you fully accept.”


Antwon was left with a deep cut after the attack that can leave a permanent scar (Image: BPM)

Fay Johnson leaves Bristol Crown Court. Bristol. January 12, 2023. See SWNS story SWMRpaddle. A woman who attacked a 12-year-old boy with a paddle on a riverbank narrowly escaped jail. Fay Johnson, 32, attacked the youth who suffered a head injury in the incident on the banks of the River Avon in Bristol last March. The child and his friends were playing near the water when they were confronted by Johnson, who reprimanded them. Police initially took no action - leading to allegations of racial bias as the boy was the only black child in the group.

Johnson was given a four-month suspended sentence and declined to comment as she left court (Image: SWNS)

“They hit him on the forehead with a very large paddle and caused him a bad injury, which was bleeding profusely 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’m convinced it wasn’t racially motivated in any way. I accept that this was an impulsive act of violence.’

In delivering the sentence, the judge recognized the accused’s good character before the crime, their remorse, their personal circumstances and that they had “already suffered significantly.”

Johnson was forced to change jobs and relocate as she received backlash online, during which she received a spate of “appalling” abuse.

Outside the court, Antwon’s grandma, Tania Palmer, and aunt, Antonia Forrest, said they didn’t want Johnson to go to jail but were surprised the sentence hadn’t been longer.

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

Miss Forrest said of her nephew: “He was so traumatized. It frightened him.”

Johnson declined to comment as she left the court.

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Justin Scacco

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