Judge orders 'wild' pupil to be locked up: Boy, 14, set fire to teacher's hair, broke another's cheekbone and urinated in head's study

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A 14-YEAR-OLD schoolboy set fire to a teacher's hair, broke another teacher's cheekbone, and urinated in the headteacher's office, a senior High Court judge revealed yesterday.

Mr Justice Ward, a family division judge, released details of the Birmingham teenager's case because he felt the facts of the case were of public importance.

He ruled that the boy, who both peddled and used drugs, assaulted teachers and set fire to a stolen car, should be locked away from the public for his own good.

The boy, who also stole from staff and his mother, had earlier been put into homes, but had run away, Mr Justice Ward said. 'He was running wild,' he added.

The judge said that Birmingham City Council had successfully applied to magistrates for an order that he should be placed in secure accommodation while his future was assessed. The magistrates ordered that he should be locked away in such accommodation for the maximum period possible, which was three months.

The youth, who cannot be identified, appealed against the order, claiming among other things that it was too long. It was argued that the magistrates had not had the best interests of the youth in mind when they made their order. But the judge, describing the boy as a 'thorough little menace', ruled that the magistrates were right.

'I cannot see how a young man can be locked away under this act (1989 Children Act) without his welfare being at the forefront of the court's mind,' the judge said. 'The justices were overwhelmingly justified in finding that his physical, emotional and educational needs demanded the order; that the likely effect of the change would be nothing but beneficial.'

As far as the length of the order was concerned, he said: 'I do not see this order as a punishment.

'I see it as an absolute necessity to give him a chance to pull himself together, to emerge from it a better young man than he would have been when he entered the assessment.'

A prep school headteacher who upset parents and staff by securing a pounds 500-a-boy 'transfer fee' when his school merged, has lost his new job in France before he even started it.

Graham Fenner made as much as pounds 50,000 from the merger of Hawtreys School, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, with Cheam, near Newbury, Berkshire. But the pay- off upset many teachers and parents at pounds 8,850-a-year Hawtreys.

Mr Fenner received pounds 30,000 for losing his job, as well as the pounds 500 payments for every boy moving to the new school, called Cheam Hawtreys.

Mr Fenner maintained that he had done nothing wrong, despite the many objections.

He was due to start a new job in France as a housemaster at St Martin prep school, in Pointoise on the outskirts of Paris. But he said yesterday: 'Some kind English person sent the newspaper cuttings to St Martin school, and as a result my contract was cancelled. The school . . . won't even respond to my telephone calls or faxes.'

As he headed for France with his wife Maryline and four children, he added: 'This is a very sad end to our life in England.'