A healthcare assistant worked for more than a year at a psychiatric hospital despite being convicted for sexual assault.

Sean Chapman had been employed as a healthcare assistant at Mill View Hospital in Nevill Avenue, Hove, for almost six years when he was convicted of a sexual assault in May 2011.

The conviction should have meant that Chapman, from Brunswick Place in Brighton, stopped working with vulnerable children and adults.

But Chapman worked for 13 months after he was convicted, because he lied to regulators, telling them he had left the trust and was working for a drainage company.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court yesterday the 34-year-old avoided jail after receiving a suspended six-month sentence for engaging in a regulated activity from which barred.

Defence solicitor John Hunter said Chapman admitted he had made a “foolish” mistake in trying to retain his employment to support his partner and two children.

Chapman was dismissed from his role in June 2012.

In court his solicitor John Hunter said that his client’s “deceit”, tendency “to act on impulse” and “failure to adapt to social norms” were all part of his personality disorder.

He added: “He made a foolish decision not to notify because he had a partner and two children to support.

“He wanted to keep his employment to provide for his family.”

Mr Chapman was sentenced to a 26-week sentence suspended for 18 months, with £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

After the sentencing, a Sussex Partnership NHS Trust spokesman said: “As soon as this allegation came to light a thorough investigation was launched and this person stopped working for the trust.

“As a trust we follow national guidelines for vetting new and existing staff and these were followed in this case.”