Jailed brawler free to teach

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Panel decides a student pub fight should not prevent 'popular' teacher from continuing in the job, reports Julie Turner

A man who was jailed after scarring another man for life during a pub brawl has been told he can continue to teach.

The General Teaching Council for England found James Bashford, 27, guilty of unacceptable professional conduct but said he could carry on working.

The panel heard that Mr Bashford had been in Cardiff on June 2, 2001, celebrating his 25th birthday with his brother Robert, when a row broke out in a pub.

The men had humiliated two women by grabbing their faces and forcing their cheeks into a smile. When one woman's husband protested, James Bashford punched him in the face, knocking him to the floor.

"He then rained down a series of punches leaving his victim bleeding and injured on the floor," presenting officer Stephen Murfitt told the GTCE hearing in Birmingham.

"(The victim) required 36 stitches to facial injuries which caused permanent scars, and loss of feeling."

Once arrested, the brothers pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court and were convicted of unlawful wounding.

They were each sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

Mr Bashford, who had been studying for his PGCE at the University of Wales in Cardiff at the time, was allowed to complete his teacher-training course before he was sentenced.

He was released for good behaviour after serving nine weeks, and signed up with an agency in Cheltenham, which found him work as a supply teacher.

In September 2002 he was appointed to Chosen Hill comprehensive in Gloucester as a design and technology support teacher.

Mr Bashford, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, was offered a full-time position a year later, when Peter Veilvoye retired as head of design and technology department.

Mr Veilvoye, who taught at the school for 36 years, appeared at the hearing as a character witness for Mr Bashford.

He said: "Mr Bashford was a popular teacher, a good leader and has an unblemished record, except for this one incident which should be put down to student folly."

Simon Collingridge, Mr Bashford's representative, told the panel: "James recognises that his actions were inexcusable and do constitute unacceptable professional conduct, but he has learnt from the experience and will never repeat the behaviour.

"Clearly, it was a mistake but he hopes that he will be able to continue to grow and contribute to the profession."

Mr Bashford, who is still employed at Chosen Hill school, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and issued with a conditional registration order to last for two years.

The order requires Mr Bashford to provide the GTCE with a report from his headteacher every six months detailing his conduct both in and outside school.

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