Teacher attacked pupil, shouting die, die, jury told

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A teacher beat a pupil around the head with a dumbbell and shouted "die, die, die" after the boy swore at him during a lesson, a court heard yesterday.

Peter Harvey, 50, attacked the 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, because he had been misbehaving in a science class, Nottingham Crown Court was told. The pupil was left with a fractured skull and cuts to his head, while Mr Harvey was arrested and later charged with attempted murder.

As the trial opened yesterday, Stuart Rafferty QC, for the prosecution, explained that Mr Harvey had been sent home from the school in December 2008 after telling an education advisor that he might harm somebody. He stayed off work until April 2009 and the incident involving the boy took place three months later, on 8 July last year.

Mr Rafferty said Mr Harvey was "well, happy and in a positive frame of mind" on the morning of the attack. The barrister went on to explain that the prelude to the incident involved a girl being disruptive in the same lesson. The jury was told that the girl, who had learning difficulties, was "messing about with a window blind". The barrister continued: "He told her to stop and there were words between them. He seems to have pulled her away from the window by her bag on her shoulder and shouted at her and it was alleged he kicked her.

"She left the classroom in a state of tears and some of the class took exception to the way she had been treated and started calling him a psycho."

It was after this that the boy started misbehaving, Mr Rafferty said: "The boy began to mess about with a wooden metre rule. He was wandering about the classroom with it, sword fighting with another pupil, that sort of high jinx. The boy then took out a metal bunsen burner stand and was waving it about in a similar way. Mr Harvey chased him around the classroom and it came to a point when the boy told him to 'fuck off'.

"That seems to have lit the blue touch paper, because Mr Harvey grabbed him by his collar and started dragging him out of the classroom. He got him down the corridor into a preparation room. He threw him to the ground and armed himself with a 3kg dumbbell and began to hit the boy about the head with it.

"He struck at least two blows to the head which caused serious injury, really serious injury. At the time the blows were being struck Mr Harvey was only heard to say one thing. What he was saying was 'die, die, die'."

The court heard that one pupil tried to drag Mr Harvey off the boy, who was lying on his back looking "frightened and confused". Mr Rafferty said: "No one can say for one moment what happened to this boy was deserved or justified. What he [Harvey] did was grossly disproportionate to the wrong inflicted on him by the boy or other members of the class. There was simply no excuse for what happened."

The court heard that Mr Harvey later told police he felt like he was watching himself on television. He said he was not feeling any emotion and "couldn't think at all".

The teacher has admitted one count of grievous bodily harm without intent. He denies a charge of attempted murder and an alternative charge of grievous bodily harm with intent to cause serious injury.

The prosecution alleges he knew what he was doing when he attacked the pupil and it was not a moment when "red mist" descended and he was unaware of his actions.

One 15-year-old girl who was in the Year 9 class said she confronted Mr Harvey about his behaviour moments before the attack. She said: "I said to him, 'Sir, I think you are having a mental breakdown', because people were scared of him. He started murmuring something about killing me."

The trial continues.