Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:08 UK

Teacher Peter Harvey cleared of attempting to kill boy

Peter Harvey
The jury took less than two hours to clear Harvey

A teacher who struck a pupil with a dumbbell has been acquitted of attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Peter Harvey, 50, hit the 14-year-old with a 3kg (6.6lb) weight at All Saints' Roman Catholic School, Mansfield, in July 2009, a jury heard.

The boy, who said he could not recall the attack, suffered a fractured skull.

The science teacher had previously admitted a charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

Harvey had returned to work after being signed off with depression and stress for several months.

But the court heard he had been mocked by pupils moments before the attack.

In a statement Peter Harvey thanked supporters

The jury at Nottingham Crown Court took less than two hours to clear the father-of-two.

Afterwards, a spokeswoman for Harvey told a media conference the teacher said he "wanted to thank people for the tremendous report we have received".

"They include many past pupils, friends, neighbours and members of St John's church. I want to thank my wife and family for their love and care."

The court heard that he shouted "die, die, die" as he bludgeoned the boy with the weight after the pupil swore at him.

It emerged during the four-day trial that pupils at the school were trying to wind up Harvey so his reaction could be caught on a camcorder being used secretly by a girl in the class.

The footage was then to be passed around the school as a way of "humiliating" the teacher.

'Common sense'

His lawyer argued Harvey was in such a state when he battered the boy, a known trouble-maker, he could not have possibly intended to kill or seriously harm him.

The judge said he would not send the teacher to jail for grievous bodily harm without intent - which he had admitted.

Harvey spent eight months on remand awaiting trial before being bailed earlier this month.

The weight used in the attack
Harvey hit the boy with the weight after the pupil swore at him

Judge Michael Stokes QC said: "Common sense has prevailed now we have heard all the evidence."

Turning to Harvey, the judge said: "I'm not going to send you to prison for this offence.

"I'm not even going to impose a suspended sentence.

"That would be wrong given that you have already served a sentence longer than can be lawfully suspended."

He added: "This court is looking to impose a community order which will assist you with the problems that you have had."

After the attack Harvey, who had just gone back to work after several months off with stress, told police he thought he had killed the boy.

Transcripts of an interview with detectives were read out in court.

Harvey said: "I can't remember it too well but I do recall it was like watching it on television, like it was not actually happening to me.

"I can remember the boy swearing and when that happened I was not really there."

'Really peaceful'

Harvey added: "We went through the door into the prep room and I remember standing over him with this metal weight and I remember hitting him twice.

"Something happened and I'm sure I dropped it. I remember feeling really peaceful."

Harvey bowed his head as the jury of six men and six women returned its unanimous verdict of not guilty.

The case 'was extremely complicated', police said

After hearing the judge's comments, he left by a side exit and will return to court to be sentenced for grievous bodily harm on 21 May.

Afterwards, Ch Insp Paul Winter, of Nottinghamshire Police, described the investigation as "extremely complicated", needing to be handled in a "highly sensitive way by officers with specialist skills."

He added: "We acknowledge the decision of the jury and hope that today's verdict will bring some degree of closure to all those involved and allow them to move on with their lives."

Rob Skelton of Nottinghamshire County Council said: "This was a very difficult case but it was highly unusual.

"Schools are normally very safe places. What occurred was out of the ordinary and totally unexpected, particularly in this school which enjoys a good reputation locally."

He added that the governing body of All Saints School would now deal with Mr Harvey's employment issues under its own internal procedures.

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