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Teacher escapes jail after dumbbell attack left pupil bloody and unconscious

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, May 24, 2010 11:54 EDT
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‘Misbehaving’ 14-year-old boy was found unconscious in a pool of blood by paramedics

And no one seems to be shouting, “Teacher, leave those kids alone.”

A teacher who bludgeoned a troublesome pupil while shouting “die, die, die” was on Monday spared a prison sentence, as a judge called him a “thoroughly decent man” who was temporarily stressed.

Peter Harvey, 50, attacked the 14-year-old boy at a school in Mansfield after chasing him around the classroom when he started misbehaving during a science lesson last July.

The pupil was found by paramedics unconscious in a pool of blood at the entrance to a classroom. The boy was left with a fractured right temple bone and severe cuts to his head, the court heard.

Harvey was found not guilty of attempted murder and intending to cause serious injury but admitted one count of grievous bodily harm without intent.

He was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court to a two-year community order, which typically combines punishments such as unpaid work, curfews and exclusions with rehabilitative requirements.

Harvey, a married father of two, hit the boy with a three-kilogramme dumbbell while yelling “die, die, die”.

“On any view this is a tragic case,” judge Michael Stokes said.

“You are a thoroughly decent man and for well over 20 years you have been a dedicated and successful school teacher.”

The incident was triggered by a combination of factors, “producing in you a quite disproportionate reaction to misbehaviour, abuse and rank disobedience by him and some of his classmates,” the judge said.

“In previous years you would have handled this easily and professionally but in July of last year you were far from well. You were undoubtedly suffering from depression, stress and a serious lack of confidence.”

It emerged during the four-day trial that pupils were trying to antagonize Harvey so his reaction could be secretly filmed and passed around the school as a way of “humiliating” the teacher.

Earlier this month, a Telegraph article claimed that “bullied teachers are the new victims of class warfare.”

Jenny McCartney wrote,

The British judicial system demonstrated both wisdom and mercy last week to Peter Harvey, the secondary school science teacher who had, in the midst of a mental breakdown, battered a 14-year-old pupil with a dumb-bell while shouting “die, die, die”. It was a nauseating act – the boy suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain – yet the jury took less than two hours to clear Mr Harvey of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent.

Despite Mr Harvey’s eruption of violence, it was evident to both judge and jury that what appeared before them was the wreckage of a good man. He had been described by former pupils and colleagues as an inspiring teacher, who cared deeply for his pupils.

….

On the day that Mr Harvey finally went mad, a number of his pupils had planned to bait him until he snapped, record this diverting meltdown on a camcorder and circulate the footage. The classroom drama duly kicked off, but by the time it ended, everyone had got more reality than they had bargained for: the boy who had told him to “f— off” was grievously injured and Mr Harvey was howling in shock.

….

When William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies, he invented for his characters an exotic location, an island away from adult rules where the cruellest instincts of adolescents could run riot. Today, a replica of that island can be found in numerous classrooms across Britain, with increasing numbers of isolated and bullied teachers cast in the unenviable role of Piggy.

Video of attack at this link

(with additional reporting by Raw Story)

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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