A SCHOOL head teacher has appeared in court after allegedly threatening one of his pupils with a dead fish!

Dave Watkins of Old Catton in Norwich was accused by an 11-year-old of putting him a headlock and tried to force a cod down his throat. 

The youngster had brought the fresh cod into his school, which cannot be named for legal reasons, and had been chasing around with it.

Magistrates dismissed the prosecution evidence as ‘manifestly unreliable’ and ruled that there was no case to answer.

Mr Watkins (51) a married father of three with an unblemished 30-year teaching record, described the verdict as ‘wonderful’, but said he was bewildered at how such a minor playground incident could ever have ended up in court.

“The boy brought a fresh cod into the school and began chasing around with it,” recalled Mr Watkins. “I told him to take it to the bin and throw it away. He then put it in a puddle. Again I told him to throw it away. Instead he picked it up, walked half way across the playground and threw it down.

“I then said ‘Pick up that pathetic creature’. He refused, telling me I should. I wanted to avoid a power struggle, so I got hold of his hands in mine and bend him down as I bent down and we both picked it up.”

Days after the incident, Mr Watkins found out he was subject to a police investigation. The police chose to believe the account of the child, a boy who had been excluded from a previous school and who is now in a special referral unit for problem children.

“At no stage was there anyone who looked at his allegation sensibly,” he added. “From the first time I saw the police it was obvious that they were determined to proceed.”

Mr Watkins said that his ‘whole world collapsed’ when he was told the prosecution was going ahead. His wife, Anne, said her husband changed overnight from a confident man to ‘a virtual recluse’.

“It’s a good result for education,” added Mr Watkins, who is now resuming his career. “We have got to start saying to people; ‘Yes, children have rights and so have their parents. But they also have responsibilities too’.”

 

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