Monday, February 28, 2011

Fifteen-year-old pupil took weapon into school after accusing staff member of sexual assault

A TEENAGE girl re­turned to the school she was expelled from with a carving knife to pursue a vendetta against a teacher she accused of sexually assaulting her.

The 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was discovered with the eight-inch weapon concealed in her bag by a school police officer, after sneaking into the building and asking for the teacher by name in December last year.

She was on bail at the time for allegedly making false claims against the teacher. The teenager had told police he had sexually assaulted her twice a week in his room over a period of six months between January and June last year.

The girl, now 16, wept as she was convicted of perverting the course of justice and possessing an offensive weapon following a two-day trial which finished at Highbury Corner Youth Court yesterday (Wednesday).

District Judge James Henderson said she had “lied” and “fabricated” evidence to “get at” the teacher.

He said her explanation of returning to the north London school, which also cannot be identified, to visit two girls she thought could help prove the teacher was a sexual predator was “completely unbelievable”.

She faces a custodial sentence following the case, described as one of “the most unusual” to go before a youth court.

The court heard how she had made allegations to police about the teacher “touching her breasts” hours after being arrested when a brick was discovered in her bag in June last year. Teaching staff had become increasingly concerned about her behaviour, constant truancy and appearance.

She originally told officers the brick was a “good luck charm” but later claimed she needed it to “defend” herself from the teacher’s advances.

She was expelled following the incident and transferred under a “managed move” to another school in north London.

Following a police investigation by Holborn’s child abuse investigation, in which she said the teacher threatened her with expulsion if she told anybody, she was charged with perverting the course of justice for making false allegations.

The court heard that she had a panic attack and was taken to hospital in an ambulance halfway through a police interview in July and that police were “worried” by inconsistencies in the dates on which the girl said the assaults took place. She later said she had “exaggerated” the claims and was arrested at her new school at the end of July.

The court heard evidence that on many of the dates the teacher was either ill, at meetings or on holiday, and therefore could not have come into contact with the pupil.

He denied all the allegations in court and told how his life had been ruined by the claims.

Prosecutors said the girl had a “fixation with knives” and “lied” when things didn’t go her way.

The court heard evidence from the teacher that the girl was trying to “dismantle his life”.

He said that he had raised concerns with the school social worker about her repeated ab­sences and her “strained relationships” with other pupils.

The court heard how she turned up at the school gates on the morning of December 6 while on bail. She swore at the school police officer, before following another pupil through the gates.

She then asked for the teacher by name, while the officer raised the alarm with staff about her presence on school grounds. He told the court: “I was alarmed. I thought she intended to injure him.”

She was searched and found with the knife in her school bag, under some exercise books.

Speaking about the incident the teacher said: “I still look over my shoulder when I walk down the corridor.

“I started thinking, ‘what would I do if she came with a weapon?’”

The girl maintained her innocence throughout the proceedings.

Defending, Bob Dwek said: “It would have been very easy for her [his client] before today to come to court to say I don’t want to go through all of this, I’m going to plead guilty. But she said, ‘no, I am going to swear that X sexually assaulted me’. She sticks by that.”

Judge Henderson said the girl’s evidence was riddled with “inconsistencies” and her story changed “too often”. He went on to say her explanation of why she returned to school in December was “completely unbelievable”.

The girl will return to court for pre-sentence hearing next month.