A social worker who screamed “baby murderers” outside a woman’s house and threatened to kill her has been suspended from the register for a year.
Joanna Clare Burgess was one of a group of people shouting abuse outside the house. They also threw a brick, injuring the victim.
Burgess was arrested following the incident in July 2012 and pleaded guilty at Kettering Magistrates Court the following November to one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or disorderly behaviour.
She was conditionally discharged for 12 months and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £175.
A panel of the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) conduct and competence committee said the social worker’s behaviour on that day was “wholly unacceptable, unprofessional and deplorable” and brought the profession into disrepute.
Burgess was not present or represented at the HCPC’s hearing and did not engage in the process in any way. She provided no evidence of insight or remorse, nor any character references.
However, the panel took the view that Burgess had received a “relatively lenient sentence” in her criminal court case, indicating that the court thought her conduct was at the less serious end of the spectrum. It also noted her previously unblemished record in social work.
It therefore concluded that a 12-month suspension would uphold confidence in social work, without losing Burgess from the profession altogether.
The panel said: “This level of sanction falls short of the ultimate sanction of last resort [removal from the register], which the panel considered is not necessary at this stage, but also allows for remediation should Mrs Burgess so chose by future engagement in this process.”
Burgess will be subject to a review hearing before she is allowed to return to practice.