Relief as teacher cleared of assault

Graham School Teacher William Stuart approaching Scarborough Magistrates' Court this morning. 113733b

Graham School Teacher William Stuart approaching Scarborough Magistrates' Court this morning. 113733b

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A SCARBOROUGH teacher accused of assaulting a teenage pupil is free to resume an “unblemished” 23-year teaching career after the case against him was dismissed.

A packed public gallery at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court erupted in applause and William Stuart, 47, was embraced by supporters as the verdict was read out yesterday, following a two-day trial.

He had always denied the charge of assault.

Chairman of the Bench Paul Osborne said that magistrates had fully accepted the teacher’s account of the incident at the Graham and Raincliffe Federation on March 21, bringing his six-month ordeal to an end.

Mr Osborne said: “We find it significant that the complainant failed to mention an alleged blow to her back, and have observed differences in the evidence of the complainant and the other two eye-witnesses.”

Earlier in the day while giving evidence, Mr Stuart, an assistant headteacher, said that the unfounded accusations had taken a tremendous toll on him, his wife Sarah, and two children, who are pupils at the Graham and Raincliffe Federation.

He revealed that he had been unable to attend one of his children’s proms following his suspension from the school.

Describing the incident which led to the charge of assault, Mr Stuart said that he had pursued a female student into a corridor after he suspected her of smearing food over the school’s cafeteria wall – an act he considered “vandalism”.

He told the court how the student showed “continual disorder” by refusing to stop and speak to him but that he had not pushed her into coat pegs, as had been alleged.

“I used a firm voice. I wanted to get her attention so she would behave respectfully,” he said.

The pupil in fact attempted to attack Mr Stuart, the court heard, by repeatedly barging into him and attempting to land a blow to his head.

“She thrusted two arms towards my head and I deflected that by moving my arms across her arms,” Mr Stuart said. The girl then stumbled to the ground.

“Her right side would have been near the coat pegs but I can’t confirm any contact,” he added.

Ian Glen QC, who represented Stuart said his client had maintained a “lawful state of mind” at all times in his closing argument.

He said: “William Stuart found himself in a most unfortunate and difficult situation. It is one thing to be involved in a pushing and shoving tussle but it is another to punch someone in the back.

“He is a dedicated teacher who has dedicated his life to the profession. He is not likely to assault a pupil and throw away what he has got.”

In her evidence Mr Stuart’s wife Sarah told the court: “My husband is the most honest man I know.”