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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 08:55 GMT
Jailed airgun teacher speaks out
Linda Walker
Mrs Walker says she felt a sense of "injustice"

A teacher jailed for confronting youths with an airgun is urging police to do more to protect people from anti-social behaviour and intimidation.

Linda Walker, 50, fired the gun near two teenagers outside her house in Urmston, Greater Manchester, in 2004.

She told BBC News she was driven to the action out of desperation after months of harassment, crime and vandalism.

Mrs Walker has been cleared to continue teaching after being given a reprimand by the General Teaching Council.

The teacher's home had been subjected to vandalism by a group of unknown people, before escalating to more serious crimes including burglary and obscene phone calls.

Although it started as a series of minor incidents, Mrs Walker said the police needed to do more to understand how families felt.

I knew I'd be in trouble but I thought they would investigate what had been going on
Linda Walker

"I think they have to give it more priority and I think they should understand the effect that it has on people," she said.

"It doesn't feel like 'low priority crime', it feels like you are under siege. You feel violated when someone has been in your house or your garden, or attacked your children."

She said she was suffering from anxiety and "totally stressed out" when she took out the airgun in 2004 to bring events "to a head".

"I knew I'd be in trouble but I thought they [the police] would investigate what had been going on," said Mrs Walker.

Instead, she was arrested and later jailed for six months for possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and affray.

The appeal court later quashed her jail sentence after five weeks, replacing it with a 12-month conditional discharge.

Mrs Walker said she felt aggrieved by her treatment, adding: "I felt there had been an injustice."

Newlove case

Since Mrs Walker's case there have been a number of high-profile incidents of families suffering from anti-social behaviour.

Last year, father-of-three Garry Newlove was kicked to death after confronting a gang vandalising his wife's car outside his home in Warrington.

Asked how she felt about that case, Mrs Walker said: "It just made me feel absolutely sick to the stomach because it's a terrible tragedy for a family."

The teacher received more than 1,200 letters from members of the public after she was sentenced and said she "would have gone under" without the support.

"It was just amazing because I thought, 'People are going to think I'm terrible. I've been out on the streets with a gun and you shouldn't do it. They're going to think I'm some kind of evil person.'

"But they didn't. They totally understood."

Mrs Walker taught children with behavioural problems at New Park High School in Eccles, Salford, when the gun incident happened.

She said she was unlikely to return to teaching children and would enter adult education if she returned to the profession.

The teaching council ruling means she must disclose the incident to any employer inquiring about her registration status.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Linda Walker speaks out about anti-social behaviour



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