Teacher is found not guilty of assaulting autistic boy

AN IPSWICH special needs teacher accused of assaulting a severely autistic student in his care has been found not guilty in court.

A District Court jury yesterday returned the verdict following a six-day trial, after they were satisfied the teacher did not act unlawfully when he kicked the child in the groin. The 40-year-old man had admitted, during four different versions of the incident, to kneeing the 16-year-old student in the groin after the boy started "strangling" him near an Ipswich special needs school bus stop in late October 2009.

The teacher said he was trying to take the boy and another girl to the bus when the boy lashed out, and he was left with no other option but to defend himself.

During the trial the teacher said he had been the primary carer for the "six-foot tall, 100kg, violent and dangerous" student for five years.

The accused and his defence argued the school's principal refused to address the teacher's concerns for other students' safety.

He said the principal "fobbed him off" when he tried to discuss new behavioural management plans.

The defence said the teacher had always adhered to "non-violent crisis intervention techniques" but if that didn't work, a teacher might "have to do" what was required when needed.

The Crown argued the assault was unlawful and that kicking or kneeing a student in the groin was not an appropriate method of discipline.

Prosecutors said the accused's testimony was riddled with the words of a man that was neither honest nor reliable and they should convict him on that basis.

The court heard teachers at the school had to document all incidents and presented evidence some of the boy's episodes hadn't been reported adequately or in chronological order.

After both sides finished submissions before the jury yesterday, it took the panel three hours to acquit him of one count of common assault.

The man is no longer a teacher since being suspended from the school shortly after the incident.

The QT understands he has since moved away from the area.



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