Mum proud of her 'resilient' girl

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 12:00 24/05/2014
 Jacqui Hoff and mother Barbara Rose-Westgate

SPEAK OUT: Jacqui Hoff and mother Barbara Rose-Westgate talk after the court battle which involved claims of abuse over Hoff’s care.

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The mother of a woman with Down syndrome is encouraging people to speak out about care issues, despite a jury verdict clearing a support worker of ill-treating her daughter.

A jury in Nelson District Court found Deborah Michelle Waugh not guilty of ill treating a vulnerable adult, Jacqui Hoff, 25, at a Nelson home for people with intellectual disabilities. The Crown had alleged Waugh was verbally and physically abusive, including an incident when she held Hoff"s head toward a warming stove element.

Waugh's lawyer said none of the incidents took place.

The jury reached its not guilty verdict on Thursday after a four-day trial.

Hoff's mother, Barbara Rose-Westgate, of Takaka, said yesterday that despite the outcome of the case she was proud that her daughter tried to speak up for herself.

While it had been extremely difficult she encouraged people to speak up and early about any issues they had with care.

Rose-Westgate said the family did not regret going through the police and court process, but it had caused a lot of distress.

"I have not been this sad since my mother died."

She believed the justice system placed too much emphasis on defendants' rights.

"Victims are the real heroes and yet they often lose out, even if the accused goes to jail."

Despite the trial result, her daughter would bounce back, Rose-Westgate said.

"She is a lovely, bright and resilient girl," she said

While Rose-Westgate hated strangers staring at her daughter when they were walking along the street, she would often say "oh mum, calm down, it's because I'm pretty".

Waugh declined to comment.

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- The Nelson Mail

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