Saturday 1 October 2016

Principal 'kicked autistic boy's legs', court told

Published 09/03/2016 | 02:30

Cork Courthouse
Cork Courthouse

A primary school principal has denied assaulting a nine-year-old autistic student by dragging him into a classroom and kicking his legs to make him walk unaided.

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The principal also denied shouting at the hysterical boy that he was "sick s***" of him.

The man, who cannot be identified, was described as "a caring educator" and has been on suspension since the complaint was first made almost two years ago.

The complainant, who was nine years old at the time, is on the autistic spectrum.

Yesterday, two women told Cork District Court they contacted gardaí after witnessing a man drag a screaming child towards a classroom and appear to kick his legs to try and get the youngster to walk unaided.

The women said they saw the man dragging the child despite the fact the child kept screaming for his mother.

They said the boy bounced against a wall and he started shouting loudly for help.

One woman said she later thought the child was "hysterical" in the classroom.

The women, who contacted gardaí over the matter, acknowledged that they also confronted the man. One woman said she was very annoyed with the man and called him "an animal" at the scene.

The child's mother later attended the school premises.

The two women said they did not know the man was in fact the school principal. The principal vehemently denied any suggestion of assaulting the boy and insisted he was only trying to protect him.

He insisted the child was not struck - and explained he had his arm firmly around the boy, which was seen by the two women, only in a bid to deal with his challenging behaviour.

The principal, who gave evidence in his own defence, denied either kicking the boy or pushing him against a wall.

The principal's defence team pointed out that the child had previously engaged in physically disruptive behaviour when brought into the school in the morning.

Scared

The teacher apologised for any upset caused but insisted he was only trying to be firm with the child for his protection and that of others. He added that his suspension had been "very traumatic and worrying" for him and his family.

The boy's mother insisted she never gave permission for her son to be physically restrained.

She also denied she ever received an apology from school officials over the upset caused.

"He could not look me in the eye," she said.

The trial heard that the boy posed significant management challenges for the school.

The judge was told that the child had run away from the school in question several times.

The boy complained that marks were left on his arm where he had been grabbed by the teacher. The boy said the alleged incidents had left him feeling "scared, worried and hurt".

Evidence in the case has concluded and a verdict will be delivered on Monday.

Irish Independent

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