Attacker hid conviction

12th May 2006 at 01:00
One-year suspension for failure to disclose criminal record for violent assault. James Savage reports

A primary teacher who failed to tell his school about his conviction for a vicious attack - which included biting his victim - has been suspended from teaching for a year.

James Owen, who taught at Red Lane primary, in Bolton, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by England's General Teaching Council.

The GTC panel was told that in the early hours of June 4, 2004, Mr Owen forced entry into a house and attacked a man, biting and repeatedly punching him and was later arrested. On September 7 2004, he pleaded guilty at Wigan and Leigh magistrates' court, where he received a conditional discharge for 36 months and was ordered to pay pound;800 compensation to the victim.

On that day, Mr Owen told the school he had to attend a meeting with his solicitor and the Crown Prosecution Service to find out whether if he was to be charged. He did not mention at any stage that he was appearing in court. He told the school he had received a caution that would be on his record for two years.

Sheleen McCormack, presenting officer, said: "Mr Owen had ample opportunity to disclose the hearing details to a supportive head. Instead, he decided to embark on a course of deliberate deceitfulness - behaviour which fell far below the standards expected from the profession."

The school was informed about the assault by the victim on June 5, 2004.

When asked by the school about the incident, Mr Owen said he was unlikely to be prosecuted due to his good record.

David Johnson, headteacher, said: "His apparent innocence reassured me that he was safe to continue teaching the children."

The Child Protection Agency contacted the school in September with details of a serious allegation involving Mr Owen and arranged a meeting for November. Mr Owen was immediately suspended.

It was during this meeting that the full details of the conviction were revealed to the school and this led to Mr Owen's resignation.

The disciplinary panel concluded: "Mr Owen deliberately and consciously misled the headteacher and the school. A moral and professional obligation was breached bringing the reputation of the profession into disrepute."

Mr Owen, who was neither present nor represented at the GTC hearing, received a one-year suspension from teaching, after which he will be restored to the teaching register.

* newsdesk@tes.co.uk

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