Teacher jailed for GBH is suspended for two years

8th April 2011 at 01:00
He served four months after breaking man's ankle in fight at wedding reception

A teacher jailed for inflicting "really serious injuries" on a member of the public during a fight at a wedding has been suspended from the profession for two years.

Dean Leon broke a man's ankle during the "fracas" at the party and was sentenced to 15 months in jail for grievous bodily harm.

Mr Leon, who "consumed an excessive amount of alcohol" at the wedding reception in August 2009, served four months in prison and has now been released.

Last week, the GTC panel said the fight was a "lamentable episode".

With his colleague James Taylor, also a teacher at Warren School in Romford, Essex, Mr Leon became involved in a disgreement with fellow guest Larry Blizzard in the hotel reception, before walking away.

But Mr Blizzard caught up with the pair in the street outside and a fight ensued, which resulted in Mr Blizzard suffering a broken tibia and fibula and a compound fracture to the ankle.

Mr Leon pleaded not guilty to the charge of GBH, but was convicted and resigned from his job. Mr Taylor was convicted of the same offence and also sent to prison.

Despite the conviction, the GTC panel heard two professional character witnesses on behalf of Mr Leon.

"There has been no repetition of this behaviour since the incident and he has taken some rehabilitative and corrective steps. Of course he has served four months of the term of imprisonment imposed upon him and he has been released on licence. He has also undertaken a counselling course," GTC panel chair Andy Connell said.

Warren School's assistant headteacher, named only as Mr Amey, and the unnamed headteacher of another school, who has known Mr Leon for most of his life, both spoke at the GTC hearing.

They told the panel that Mr Leon had already made a big contribution to education, and had worked in difficult and challenging schools. Mr Amey said Mr Leon would be "welcomed back to the school with open arms" if he wanted to return to the classroom.

But Mr Connell said Mr Leon had used "excessive force" in the "course of the tussle".

"There is little doubt that Mr Leon, and presumably the others, had consumed an excessive amount of alcohol. It was quite clearly a lamentable episode for Mr Leon, who lost what had been an entirely exemplary character by reason of it," he said.

"But the committee does not regard his behaviour as being deliberate in the sense of his intending to harm Mr Blizzard really seriously.

"Mr Leon has expressed remorse. He was not acting under duress. As mentioned, he does have a previous good history. The committee accept that there has been no repetition of this behaviour since the incident and that he has taken some rehabilitative and corrective steps."

Mr Connell said he did not consider Mr Leon a risk to pupils "because of the way he gave his evidence and on the basis of the references".

"There is no evidence of harmful deep-seated personality or attitudinal problems. Quite the reverse. Mr Leon demonstrated all the characteristics of a person who is adept at teaching and well able to cope with classes of the most challenging nature," he said.

"A suspension order is, in fact, an appropriate and proportionate sanction and it is consistent with the preservation of the reputation of the profession."

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