Teacher let off after pulling principal to the ground by her hair
Published 21/02/2013 | 04:00
A Gaelscoil teacher who pulled his principal to the ground by her hair had his case dismissed without a criminal charge after the judge said he had suffered enough by "front page coverage" of the case.
Micheal Pleamoinn (41), of Bealnamullia, Athlone, Co Westmeath, made an ex-gratia payment of €2,000 to Maire Ni Murchu as requested by Judge Seamus Hughes at a previous sitting of Athlone District Court.
Of his own volition, he also made a payment of €500 to a charity of Ms Ni Murchu's choice.
The court heard Mr Pleamoinn attacked the principal on September 14, 2011, after a row over his plan to set up an after-school homework club at Scoil na gCeithre Maistri in Athlone.
When Ms Ni Murchu told him she would have to run the idea past the board of management, Mr Pleamoinn became agitated and asked her if she wanted to "push him over the edge".
Suggesting that she go back to the board and ask them to sack him, Mr Pleamoinn grabbed her by the wrists before putting his two hands to her head and pulling her "violently" to the floor by her hair.
Ms Ni Murchu ran screaming from the classroom and the incident was reported to the gardai.
She claimed some of her hair had been pulled out during the incident.
She had suffered post traumatic stress disorder, which had forced her to be off work for six months.
Mr Pleamoinn, who had no criminal convictions, was immediately suspended following the incident.
He received psychiatric treatment and has not been back at work since.
Judge Hughes said the case involved two people both holding down "respectable jobs".
He suggested it was a one-off episode and said it appeared Mr Pleamoinn was likely to suffer greater consequences than he could sanction.
He had received front page coverage in newspapers, and the judge said it was not until he had seen it himself "in black and white" that he realised it had "gossip value".
The judge dismissed the case, leaving Mr Pleamoinn with no criminal conviction. The punishment was based on the fact that this was a first offence and that the ex-gratia payment had been made.