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“This was acceptable restraint”

“This was acceptable restraint”

Wednesday 19 October 2016

“This was acceptable restraint”

In the trial of a teacher accused of two assaults on a four-year-old autistic boy, the Magistrate’s Court yesterday heard a Defence Advocate describe the incident as “acceptable restraint.”

A teacher at a Jersey school has denied two charges of common assault on the same day, February 9th, on a four-year-old autistic boy.

It is alleged the teacher, who has been suspended from work pending the outcome of the trial, wiped the child’s own saliva over his face during a cooking session in which pancakes were being made on Shrove Tuesday and later on the same day kicked his legs.  

The defendant and school have not been named in order to protect the identity of the child.

Magistrate Bridget Shaw will deliver her verdicts later today following the four-day trial.

Police Legal Advisor Jan Brewer said the charges concerned the “unlawful use of force so that assaults were committed.”

But Defending Advocate Christina Hall, in yesterday’s summing up, said there was no assault and that the defendant had an unimpeachable record having worked at the school for over 20 years.

In reference to the first alleged assault, where the defendant was supposed to have wiped the boy’s saliva into his face, Advocate Hall said: “In the first allegation, a witness told of such force being used that she could see the boy’s gums. It was a brutal act. No one else in the room describes it this way other than this witness. Why did she recall it that way? She indicated she thought there was a cover up and no one was taking it seriously. She was either recollecting it incorrectly, or exaggerating because she believes the defendant will be sacked if she is found guilty.

“The daughter saw her hand move twice and she was in the best position to see. The defendant said this was a visual instruction. We don’t know why the boy stopped, but once she did this, he did. The defendant could have done several things but you need to be sure she did this in anger and hostility.    

“The first time she became aware of this second allegation was three months after in April and her response to the allegation was entirely reasonable, in that she simply could not remember the second allegation.

In her conclusion, Advocate Hall added: “She was regarded as a dedicated, hard-working professional woman. It could not have happened because she had never acted that way with a child in 20 years working at the school. In fact, it is more credible that she did not act out of anger towards the boy and any movement to assist him was done in an appropriate manner. This was acceptable restraint.”

But Miss Brewer insisted that several witness saw the defendant’s behaviour that day in a different light, including one witness who said: “I have never seen a pupil being treated in the way he was on this occasion. I didn’t understand the need for it. This stands out as being unusual. 

“She wiped the palm of his hand in a circular motion around his face. It looked unpleasant and I did not understand the need for this to be happening.”

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