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Friday, March 18, 2011

Just eight months in prison for drunk mother who attacked disfigured girl in a bar after telling her 'take off your mask'

By Daily Mail Reporter

-Prosecutors lobbied for tougher prison sentence

-To add insult to injury a BBC security guard asks 'Don't you think you're taking Red Nose Day a bit too far?'

Attacked: Chantelle Richardson, left, was taunted and punched by Rachel Rooney on a night out in Oldham. Here the 23-year-old is pictured with Katie Piper who suffered an acid attack

A drunken mother who attacked a disfigured girl in a bar in an 'appalling' disability hate crime sobbed as she was jailed yesterday.

On a night out in Oldham, Rachel Rooney taunted and attacked 23-year-old Chantelle Richardson, who rarely leaves the house because of her deformity and could die if struck.

Miss Richardson's condition severely disfigures her face leaving her vulnerable to stroke, or worse if hit on the nose, and she is required to wear a balloon-like device under her skin.

But when Rooney, 31, spotted Miss Richardson in a bar during a rare night out with friends in September last year, she cruelly taunted her about her appearance jeering 'take your mask off' before punching her in the face.

As Miss Richardson was rushed to hospital suffering from a life-threatening haemorrhage, Rooney attempted to escape the scene, but she was arrested by police nearby.

The mother of one pleaded guilty to assault at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court as the CPS successfully lobbied for a longer sentence of eight months for the attack on the basis that it was a disability hate crime.

Hate crime: Rachel Rooney, pictured outside Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court, demanded that Miss Richardson 'take off your mask' on a drunken night out for the mother of one

The court heard that Rooney, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, who works as an administrator for a family roofing business, had numerous previous convictions, including common assault, public disorder and criminal damage.

Following the case Miss Richardson slammed Rooney as a 'bully' and hailed the result as important for her and for disfigured people in society, saying she hoped the sentence 'gives other people the confidence to go out in public without fear of prejudice'.

Sentencing Judge Peter Lakin said: 'Miss Richards is vulnerable and rarely goes out. On this particular night she thought she was safe in the Weaver's Arms [in Oldham], having a quiet drink with some of her friends. Sadly, she was mistaken.

'Whilst drunk you made quiet unnecessary and highly offensive remarks about Miss Richardson's face.

'You then, for no good reason whatsoever, aimed a blow at her which contacted with her nose and caused it to bleed.

'In my judgement, you quite deliberately targeted Miss Richardson because of her deformity.'

He added: 'I've been told in mitigation that you are disgusted with yourself, as you should be.'

Miss Richardson suffers from Aterio-venous Malformation, or AVM, an abnormal collection of blood vessels that caused a 'severe deformation' of her face.

She is an ambassador for a charity run by model Katie Piper, who was left seriously disfigured when acid was thrown in her face in 2008 in a vicious attack arranged by a man she had been dating, and features in her upcoming Channel 4 documentary, 'Katie, My Beautiful Face,' due to be aired next week.

Meanwhile BBC chiefs launched an inquiry today after a security guard made an offensive remark to Miss Richardson, who was a radio guest.

While waiting to appear on a Radio 5 chat show, the man approached her and said: 'Don't you think you're taking Red Nose Day a bit too far?'

Embarrassed radio host Phil Williams apologised and stated he felt terrible that the incident had happened within the BBC building, adding that an investigation was underway.

Miss Richardson was being interviewed about her appearance on upcoming Channel 4 series 'Katie: My Beautiful Friends', about people who are fighting for normality while living with disfigurement.



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