Social worker rapped over racial abuse.
A MIDLAND social worker found guilty of racially abusing a man in front of his young son has got a slap on the wrists at a conduct hearing.
Samantha Sheldon lost her job with Staffordshire County Council after she was convicted of hurling insults during a road rage row as the victim's seven-year-old son looked on. At her trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court, Judge Trevor-Jones described her actions as "sustained aggression and quite vile language", and sentenced her to a community order of 175 hours' unpaid work and to pay compensation of pounds 300.
Now the General Social Care Council has found her guilty of misconduct and given her a one-year admonishment.
The ruling means she can still practise and remain on the social workers' register.
Sheldon was convicted of the offence of racially aggravated threatening behaviour, at Shrewsbury Crown Court, in July 2010.
She continued her denial of the offence at the conduct hearing.
The GSCC panel reported: "The registrant did not dispute the fact of her conviction nor the sentence that was imposed as a result.
'She told this committee that she was innocent, that she had pleaded not guilty at court, but had not appealed against the conviction."
Sheldon produced two references from ethnic minorities to support her case against misconduct.
The panel also described how her references made it "clear that this was an out-ofcharacter incident" and the committee was prepared to treat it as a "one-off". It said the initial conflict was between Sheldon's former husband and the victim, and not started by her.
It added: "The racial abuse occurred in the heat of the moment and lasted only a few minutes.
"The registrant is conscious that the words that led to her conviction are unacceptable, particularly when used by a professional social worker.
"The crown court conviction led to the registrant being dismissed from her employment. "Waiting for this hearing has been very stressful for the registrant. These factors have already brought home to the registrant the lessons to be learned.
"This committee decided that the public interest would not be served by imposing no sanction. The nature of the conviction of the crown court requires that a sanction be imposed."
The conduct committee finally ruled: "The committee was satisfied that an admonishment of one year's duration was sufficient to maintain public confidence in the social work profession."