‘Overworked’ principal guilty of assaulting young pupil

Judge gives ‘understaffed’ man benefit of Probation Act and orders he undergo anger management

A primary school principal has been found guilty of assaulting a nine-year-old pupil but given a conditional discharge under the Probation Act arising out of exceptional circumstances. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien.

A primary school principal has been found guilty of assaulting a nine-year-old pupil but given a conditional discharge under the Probation Act arising out of exceptional circumstances. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien.

 

A primary school principal has been found guilty of assaulting a nine-year-old pupil but given a conditional discharge under the Probation Act arising out of exceptional circumstances.

The principal was told to undergo an anger management course and give an undertaking to the court to be of good behaviour. His conviction was not recorded subject to the payment of a bond of €700.

Judge John King said while the accused was undoubtedly guilty of the assault, he was “overworked and understaffed…had an exceptional record and was well respected”.

The principal was suspended in June 2014 pending the investigation of a complaint that he had assaulted the pupil, who has Asperger’s syndrome.

The pupil claimed he was in the staff room with his special needs assistant on the June 29th, 2014 when the principal came in and told him to come to a test.

He said the principal then proceeded to drag him out before going on to smack him in the head. The boy claimed there were five other similar incidents involving the principal.

Problems

Frank Buttimer, for the defence, said the boy had a wide range of problems at his previous schools including kicking a special needs assistant in the stomach. The principal said he never intended to assault the child and he was only trying to protect him.

He told the court he had seen the boy lash out at his own mother as she attempted to drop him off in the mornings. He said he often had to hold him and be firm with him for his own safety and the safety of others. He apologised for any upset caused and said it was never his intention to assault or cause the boy harm.

In delivering his verdict, Judge King said “no lawful excuse” could be given for the actions of the principal.

“Even if he did have a lawful excuse for his actions the level of force used was excessive in my view. I am satisfied beyond doubt that the victim’s head made contact with the wall. There can be no excuse for this.”

Judge King said the boy’s mother had made it clear that she had never given permission for her son to be restrained other than to block him going back out the entrance in the mornings if the need should arise.

Judge King said he accepted the incident was “totally out of character” for the principal describing the assault as “unfortunate”.

He gave the principal a conditional discharge under the Probation Act. Certain conditions were given such as the onus being placed on