Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 16:30 UK

Art teacher Lynda May cleared of glue stick assault

Lynda May
Lynda May leaves court after being cleared of assault

An art teacher has been cleared of assaulting a pupil with behavioural difficulties by hitting his thumb nail with a stick of glue.

Lynda May, 54, of Neath, denied causing actual bodily harm and claimed it was an accident as she demonstrated the boy's inappropriate behaviour to him.

Swansea Crown Court heard he would lose his temper and bang tables and desks.

Mrs May's union criticised the decision to bring a court case but prosecutors said it was in the public interest.

Mrs May, a teacher for more than 30 years, sobbed with relief after the jury returned their verdict.

The court heard that the boy had sworn at her and hit her with the glue stick after becoming angry during a lesson last September when the paper shapes he was cutting out began sticking to his fingers.

Mrs May told the jury she had suffered far worse abuse and assaults during her career, including being bitten by a girl in 2007.

REACTION
David Evans
David Evans, NUT Wales secretary
"This whole process has been extremely stressful to Lynda and her family and no-one should underestimate the pressures they have felt in having to deal with this over the last eight months.

"The fact that Lynda has now been fully vindicated and cleared of the criminal charge is some consolation.

"But we need to consider whether this whole process was justified in terms of the evidence brought, the cost, the time and the expense and the personal cost in terms of anxiety and worry to both Lynda and her family.

"Of course, all allegations, particularly when they are brought by a child must be investigated. But it is the nature of the investigation and the recommendations that it should be pursued through to a crown court trial that must be brought into question."

The trial heard the boy slammed the tube of glue onto a desk immediately behind where Mrs May was standing accidentally catching her hand or wrist.

She said she did not lose her cool but did go on to bang the glue stick on the table herself, to demonstrate how "inappropriate" his behaviour was.

The last blow was harder then the others, and in doing it Mrs May said she accidentally hit the boy's hand.

Although the boy was taken to hospital to have the wound dressed, the prosecution said the injury was superficial.

Mrs May, who has an unblemished record as a teacher, was charged more than five weeks after the incident with causing what the prosecution described as a "superficial" wound.

'Victim'

The prosecution case was that it did not matter whether Mrs May had intended to hurt the boy as she had "acted totally inappropriately" and had acted in a way that was "consistent with a loss of temper".

After the case, National Union of Teacher Welsh secretary David Evans criticised the prosecution.

Standing on the steps of the court with Mrs May, he said: "Although Lynda has won in terms of this court case, we must never forget she is a victim.

"Lynda isn't the only teacher who has faced or is facing such procedures.

'Stress'

"It is a fact that the vast majority of cases where allegations of this nature are brought get dismissed without further process.

"It is the very few that come this far. We're fortunate in this case, common sense has finally prevailed."

He said Mrs May wanted to thank her husband, family, friends, past pupils - some of who have attended the trial - and her union and legal team for their "unwavering support".

Mrs May said afterwards that the stress of the trial had "taken its toll" on her health.

When asked if she would return work, she said: "I need a rest, I think I deserve it."

The Crown Prosecution Service said it decided there was "sufficient" evidence to prosecute and Mrs May had chosen to go to crown court rather than be tried before magistrates.

A spokesman said it was in the public interest to put the case before a court "given the position of trust of the defendant and the nature of the allegations against her".



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SEE ALSO
Glue stick injury 'an accident'
18 May 10 |  South West Wales
Glue stick 'used to injure pupil'
17 May 10 |  Wales


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