England

Cornish teacher cleared of assaulting school trip pupil

A teacher accused of twisting a pupil by his arm and pushing him against a mirror, has been cleared of assault.

Stuart Ferguson, of Marine Drive, Looe, Cornwall, was charged with assaulting a pupil with behavioural issues during a school trip to a donkey sanctuary.

The pupil, who is under the age of 14, spat at the teacher, scratched him and drew blood earlier this year.

After a two-day trial, Plymouth Magistrates' Court found 27-year-old Mr Ferguson not guilty.

Teaching assistant Heather Mitchell told the court the boy had been anxious about the trip and became upset when Mr Ferguson questioned him about his friends.

'Best' teacher

When the boy then scratched the teacher on the hand, he was restrained.

Ms Mitchell said she and Mr Ferguson had attended a one-day course on the subject of positive handling which taught them to move away from physical situations and to use force as a last resort.

"I think there was no reason for this to happen," she told the court.

Mr Ferguson said he had a good relationship with both the pupil and Ms Mitchell.

When the boy got upset and threatened to scratch and slap him, he moved his face away.

After the child scratched him, drawing blood, Mr Ferguson said: "I had his hand and lifted it and put it down the side of his body.

"He started spitting at me. I turned his face away. It could have been close but was never touching the mirror."

After the court case, other staff described Ferguson as "the best teacher in the school".

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites