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Teacher fails in payout bid

PUBLISHED: 10:04 02 April 2010 | UPDATED: 21:47 02 July 2010

A SPECIAL needs teacher whose career was destroyed by a classroom assault at the hands of an autistic pupil received a top judge s sympathy on Wednesday – but not a penny in compensation. Judge John Leighton Williams QC said very considerable criticism

A SPECIAL needs teacher whose career was destroyed by a classroom assault at the hands of an autistic pupil received a top judge's sympathy on Wednesday - but not a penny in compensation.

Judge John Leighton Williams QC said "very considerable criticism" could be made of the London Borough of Havering, but no failings on its part had caused the teacher's suffering.

Describing the 2003 incident, the woman teacher, from Romford, earlier told the court that the boy gave her an "evil" look, before stabbing her on the back of her hand with a pencil.

He then took her by the head and shook her violently, leaving pencil marks on her neck.

The middle-aged woman, who cannot be identified, said she was so traumatised by what happened that she still relives the incident every night and has been unable to work since.

She sued Havering for substantial damages to cover her lost earnings and pain and suffering, claiming she was never informed of the boy's autism and that the attack was the foreseeable result of the local authority's failure to prepare her properly for dealing with him.

Judge Leighton Williams said the boy, although described as normally a passive child, had shown challenging behaviour in the past and the highly structured approach to education he needed had not been employed by Havering as it should have been.

However, he added that he had heard no evidence that the boy's education was unacceptable or inadequate or that it resulted in an unsafe system of work for his teacher.

Dismissing the teacher's case, he said: "This is one of those cases were very considerable criticism can be levelled at the defendants, but where, at the end of the day, I cannot conclude that failures leading to that criticism were causative of this assault."

Although he emphasised that the teacher had done nothing wrong, the judge concluded: "I have very considerable sympathy for her, but I cannot find on the evidence that causative negligence has been proved."

The court was earlier told that the boy was "obsessed" with the teacher and would jump up and down in front of her, repeating her name.

He would become upset at disruption to his routine, or would bang and bite his computer if frustrated.


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