School ban after man's Dunblane threat

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The Independent Online
A prisoner who has allegedly threatened to "do a Dunblane" after his release from jail was yesterday banned by the High Court from entering any council buildings or schools in a south-east London borough.

The emergency injunction won by Greenwich council against 50-year-old David Jennings, which also forbids him to carry firearms or other offensive weapons or interfere with children, teachers and other staff, is effective until a full hearing next Monday at which a permanent court order will be sought.

The council's solicitor, Helen Vautier, said after yesterday's private hearing that the injunction "in no sense pre-judges the result of the full hearing". But if Mr Jennings broke any of its terms, he would be in contempt of court, she said.

This means that Mr Jennings, due for release today, will be at risk of being sent back to jail if he breaches the order.

Yesterday's emergency hearing became necessary after it was learned that Mr Jennings was to be set free four days earlier than expected.

Last month, newspapers reported an allegation that Mr Jennings, a father of 10, had told a chaplain at Highpoint Prison, Suffolk, that he would carry out a "Dunblane massacre" because he was outraged at Greenwich council's treatment of his children in care.

The High Court delayed a decision on the council's initial application for an injunction until next Monday, 24 hours before Mr Jennings, who lives in Eltham within the borough of Greenwich, was due to be released from his 30-month sentence for assault.

But following a review of the time he had spent in custody, it was announced on Tuesday that he would be released today.

A council spokesman said: "The council and the police have worked closely together to take all necessary steps to review the safety of schools and council buildings in the borough.

"Because of the New Year holiday and the unexpected announcement of the impending release, we are seeking the help of the media to ensure people in our community including teachers and parents are informed about what has happened."

Mr Jennings was moved from Highpoint Prison to Elmley jail on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent following his alleged threat and is due to be released after serving about half of his sentence. He has previous convictions for assaulting council officers and possessing a firearm in public.

Yesterday's injunction, granted by Mr Justice Butterfield, bans Mr Jennings from entering or attempting to enter any council building or school and from going within a certain distance of some of them; owning or carrying firearms or any other offensive weapon; and interfering with any children, teachers or other staff at the council's schools, or any council employee.

Mr Jennings' solicitor, James Bancroft, said his client would strongly contest the court hearing. The terms of the injunction being sought were "very onerous and extremely severe, meaning he could not live an ordinary life in an area where he has lived for 25 years".

Mr Bancroft added: "He admits saying something similar to the alleged comments, but there was never any intention to make a serious threat. It was just rubbish he spouted while unburdening himself to the prison chaplain because the social services had failed to bring his children to see him."