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29 Apr 2010

Teacher Cleared of Attempting to Kill Boy

A teacher who struck a pupil with a dumbbell has been acquitted of attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Peter Harvey, 50, hit the 14-year-old with a 3kg (6.6lb) weight at All Saints' Roman Catholic School, Mansfield, in July 2009, a jury heard.

The boy suffered a fractured skull.

Harvey had returned to work after being signed off with depression and stress for several months.

But the court heard he had been mocked by pupils moments before the attack.

The science teacher had denied attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but admitted a charge of causing grievous bodily harm without intent.

The jury at Nottingham Crown Court took less than two hours to clear the father-of-two.

The court heard that he shouted "die, die, die" as he bludgeoned the boy with the weight after the pupil swore at him.

It emerged during the four-day trial that pupils at the school were trying to wind up Harvey so his reaction could be caught on a camcorder being used secretly by a girl in the class.

The footage was then to be passed around the school as a way of "humiliating" the teacher.

His lawyer argued Harvey was in such a state when he battered the boy, a known trouble-maker, he could not have possibly intended to kill or seriously harm him.

The judge said he would not send the teacher to jail for grievous bodily harm without intent - which he had admitted. Harvey spent eight months on remand awaiting trial before being bailed earlier this month.

Judge Michael Stokes QC said: "Common sense has prevailed now we have heard all the evidence."

Turning to Harvey, the judge said: "I'm not going to send you to prison for this offence.

"I'm not even going to impose a suspended sentence.

"That would be wrong given that you have already served a sentence longer than can be lawfully suspended."

He added: "This court is looking to impose a community order which will assist you with the problems that you have had."

After the attack Harvey, who had just gone back to work after several months off with stress, told police he thought he had killed the boy.

Transcripts of an interview with detectives were read out in court.

Harvey said: "I can't remember it too well but I do recall it was like watching it on television, like it was not actually happening to me.

"I can remember the boy swearing and when that happened I was not really there."

Harvey added: "We went through the door into the prep room and I remember standing over him with this metal weight and I remember hitting him twice.

"Something happened and I'm sure I dropped it. I remember feeling really peaceful."

Harvey bowed his head as the jury of six men and six women returned its unanimous verdict of not guilty.

After hearing the judge's comments, he left by a side exit and will return to court to be sentenced for grievous bodily harm on 21 May.

With thanks to BBC News for this news item.