Wednesday 21 March 2018

Teacher avoids jail over attack on principal

Stress: Micheal Pleamoinn
Stress: Micheal Pleamoinn

Finian Coghlan

A school teacher who threw his principal to the ground by her hair in a row over an after-school homework club has avoided a jail sentence.

The victim accepted an ex-gratia payment of €2,000 from the teacher at Athlone District Court.

The court had earlier heard how Micheal Pleamoinn (41), Barley Fields, Bealnamullia, Athlone, Co Roscommon, had approached his acting headmistress, Maire Ni Mhurchu, at the Gaelscoil in Athlone on September 14, 2011, to present his plan for an afterschool homework club.

However, when Ms Ni Mhurchu suggested she would have to run it past the board of management first, Pleamoinn became "very angry and started shouting at her", according to Inspector Nicholas Farrell.

"Do you want me to go over the edge? What are you trying to do to me? If I end up in jail, don't come running to me," the defendant was quoted as shouting at his victim.

"He then grabbed her by the hair with both hands and threw her violently to the floor," the inspector said.

In her evidence, Ms Ni Mhurchu said she had to take six months off work and was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident.

Pleamoinn's solicitor, Dara Robinson, declined to cross-examine saying: "I don't want to add to the obvious suffering of the victim.

"There's a clear backdrop of irrationality, but there was no use of a weapon, no use of a fist, no use of a boot," he added in mitigation.

He described Pleamoinn as "an extremely well-regarded teacher for a decade and a half", before handing in a psychiatric report to Judge Seamus Hughes for his perusal.

"This is clearly a man with an unblemished life, but who has suffered acute stress at various points in life. You are not a danger to the public generally, and I get the distinct impression this episode has caused extreme distress to you," the judge said.

Having earlier indicated he was not going to jail the teacher, he asked Ms Ni Mhurchu if she was willing to accept the €2,000 ex-gratia payment and she said she would. The case was adjourned for a week to allow Pleamoinn to gather the money.

Irish Independent

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