Acquittal of Ceara teacher welcomed

Louis Boyle.
Louis Boyle.

The case against Laura McConville, wrongly convicted of assaulting a special needs student, should never have been brought to court, it has been claimed.

Ms McConville was acquitted on appeal at Craigavon Crown Court last week.

Louis Boyle, who described himself as an advisor to Ms McConville, is a former chairman of the Board of Governors at Donard School in Banbridge (a special school similar to Ceara).

He said the quashing of the conviction had been widely welcomed by teaching staff in special education schools throughout Northern Ireland and in particular Ceara school.

He said the matter should have been handled as one of “inappropriate discipline” and dealt with within school procedures rather than taken to court.

He said the decision to prosecute had meant “a teacher with over 23 years experience, whose work has over the years received commendation and awards, has been on suspension now for over 15 months on full salary and her position has been covered by a temporary teacher - all at public expense”.

He added: “The life of the teacher has been left in ruins; her physical and mental health has been very badly affected; she has been under medical care for the duration and her professional standing and self-confidence have all been adversely affected.

“It has been a truly awful experience for her and her family.”