Teacher cleared of assault on Portadown pupil

Laura McConville

Laura McConville

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A teacher convicted of assaulting a Portadown pupil has been cleared on appeal.

Special needs teacher Laura McConville had been convicted earlier this year of an assault at Dunnes Stores, Rushmere.

Ms McConville was acquitted on appeal at Craigavon Crown Court last Friday.

An advisor to Ms McConville, Louis Boyle, claimed the quashing of the conviction had been widely welcomed by teaching staff in special education schools throughout Northern Ireland and in particular Ceara school.

Mr Boyle, who is a former chairman of the Board of Governors at Donard School in Banbridge (a special school similar to Ceara), said the matter should have been handled as one of “inappropriate discipline” and dealt with within school procedures rather than taken to court.

He said the decision to prosecute had meant “a teacher with over 23 years’ experience, whose work has over the years received commendation and awards, has been on suspension now for over 15 months on full salary and her position has been covered by a temporary teacher - all at public expense”.

He added, “The life of the teacher has been left in ruins; her physical and mental health has been very badly affected; she has been under medical care for the duration and her professional standing and self-confidence have all been adversely affected.

“It has been a truly awful experience for her and her family.”