Highlands & Islands

Former Inverness Drummond School teacher can keep award

A teacher awarded £71,158 damages in 2009 after repeated attacks by a pupil which led her to leave her job has won a legal fight to keep the money.

Appeal judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh rejected an attempt by Highland Council to claw it back.

The local authority had challenged a previous decision by a sheriff that they had failed in their duty of care.

Teresa McCarthy, 54, had spent three days a week at Drummond School in Inverness.

She worked with pupils who had learning and behaviour difficulties.

Pulled her hair

One member of her class of five was a 13-year-old autistic boy.

Between June and September 2001 there were several incidents when the teenager was violent towards staff.

Mrs McCarthy, of Inverness, was punched when she went to help a support worker who had been attacked by the boy.

On another occasion the teenager punched Mrs McCarthy and pulled her hair.

The incidents led to changes in the school, including making a male support worker responsible only for the autistic boy. Mrs McCarthy was given a radio so she could call for help.

Never returned

The violence stopped but a year later Mrs McCarthy suffered a depressive episode and symptoms of phobic anxiety about the school.

She was signed off sick, but never returned to that school.

When she raised a civil action claiming damages the teacher listed 25 ways in which she said her employers could have looked after her better.

Sheriff Alan Miller awarded the damages.

In a newly-issued written ruling, Lord Hamilton sitting with Lady Paton and Lord Hardie rejected Highland Council's claim that no reasonable precautions would have prevented Mrs McCarthy from being injured.

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