Head took 'slightly inebriated' pupils on to school roof

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The Independent Online

A head teacher had taken a group of "slightly inebriated" sixth formers on to the roof of their school when one pupil tumbled through a skylight, a court heard today.

Joel Murray fractured his skull, broke his ribs, perforated an eardrum and suffered permanent damage to his eye when he fell 2.5 metres into a corridor, Liverpool Crown Court was told.

Mr Murray, then 18, was part of group of students at Sacred Heart Catholic College in Crosby, Merseyside, who were taken on to the flat roof by head teacher John Summerfield.

The incident, in August 2008, happened during an evening party the school had thrown to celebrate the students' A-level results which had been released that day.

Kevin Donnelly, prosecuting, described the party as a "restrained affair" and said the students had consumed no more than "one or two" bottles of beer or glasses of wine.

But during the course of the event, Mr Summerfield, 65, took about 10 or 12 students on to the roof, which was normally out of bounds, as he showed them the results of renovations to the building.

While on the roof, Mr Donnelly said, the principal warned the teenagers to stay away from the fragile skylight but Mr Murray placed his foot on it as he walked past and tumbled through.

Mr Donnelly said: "Nobody was drunk but it is possible they were slightly affected by drink, possibly slightly inebriated.

"Mr Summerfield took a group into an area which was normally out of bounds. The decision was his and it was his alone.

"The very act of taking the students to that area was a breach of his duty of care. He failed to give appropriate consideration to the risks involved."

Summerfield denies breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to take reasonable care for the safety of his students.