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Headteacher 'slapped' smoking pupil

A headteacher slapped a pupil round the face when he refused to stop smoking on school premises, a court heard today.

Southampton Magistrates' Court was told that Eve Ritchie-Fallon confronted the 15-year-old student as he stood smoking with friends in the grounds of the Forest Education Centre, Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire.

The court heard that an angry exchange followed during which the 57-year-old allegedly ripped a pair of earmuffs from his head and slapped him around the face.

The teenager, who had previously suffered a broken jaw, said that the alleged assault caused his face to throb and he attended hospital three days later to have it checked.

He said: "I couldn't eat properly without it getting worse."

He told the court that after Ritchie-Fallon had slapped him, she spoke to him "aggressively" but without swearing.

He admitted swearing at her and said that he was in shock following the incident.

The pupil added that he frequently argued with Ritchie-Fallon and said that she was a strict headteacher.

He also admitted afterwards calling her a "divvy b****".

Mark Elliott, defending, asked the boy whether he had made up the story because he feared being permanently excluded from the educational centre, which the pupil denied.

The boy's mother told the court that her son suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was capable of becoming verbally aggressive although less likely to become violent as he grew older.

Describing her son when she came to pick him up on the day of the alleged attack, she said: "He looked a bit agitated and a bit taken aback by everything."

Ritchie-Fallon, of Long Close, Pennington, Hants, denies a charge of assault by beating on November 21, 2008.

She claims the assault did not happen and that the student had ignored her when she asked him to put out the cigarette.

She claims he pretended to not hear her because of the earmuffs he was wearing which she says she removed in a non-aggressive manner.

The Forest Education Centre teaches children aged between 11 and 16 who have been referred because of behavioural difficulties or because they have been permanently excluded from school.

The pupils are taught in groups of no more than six and on a reduced timetable.