Court: RCT school staff deny assaulting children

Court: RCT school staff deny assaulting children

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The teacher and teaching assistant at Park Lane special school, Aberdare have denied all charges

Three children with autism were assaulted by members of staff at their special needs school, a court has heard.

Teacher Laura Murphy and teaching assistant Mandy Hodges, of Park Lane special school in Aberdare, are accused of physically and verbally assaulting the children on more than one occasion.

The court heard how one child was \”pulled across the yard\”.

The child\’s father said his son had become \”reluctant\” to attend school.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Emma Harris said Ms Murphy and Ms Hodges were seen by other staff members ripping ear defenders off a nine-year-old boy described as \”severely autistic, non-verbal and has a sensory processing disorder\”.

Swansea Crown Court was told about separate incidents at the Rhondda Cynon Taf school on October 19 2020.

\’Pushed him down\’

Ms Harris said: \”In one swift action, she (Ms Murphy) ripped his ear defenders from his ears.

\”Laura Murphy took hold of (the child) by his arm and pulled him across the yard to the bench where she pushed him down.\”

The court heard how the boy – whose identity is protected by law – suffers physical pain from sensory overload without ear defenders, causing him to have meltdowns to try to block out the noise.

A staff member reported the alleged incident to the acting head the following day.

The jury was told that the boy\’s father – who also cannot be named – said his son went from being \”a happy boy who enjoyed activities and enjoyed going to school,\” to a child who \”became reluctant to go to school, had difficulty sleeping and would not allow his father to adjust his ear defenders – something he was previously able to do.\”

Ms Harris said the father noticed the change when Ms Murphy became his teacher. He was so concerned he approached the acting headteacher Diane Llewellyn.

\’Shout in his face\’

The court was told that later on same day, staff member Hannah Williams noticed defendant Mandy Hodges outside the schoolyard with the same child.

\”[The child] appeared to be crying and he was hitting Mandy Hodges\’ arm.

\”Heather Williams saw that Mandy Hodges\’ response was to bend down, with her face in [his], and to shout \’stop\’ in his face.

\”She then ripped off his ear defenders. He was crying and could be seen to punch himself to the side of his head.

\”Despite this, Mandy Hodges walked away, carrying the ear defenders with her.\”

Laura Murphy and Mandy Hodges deny seven charges of assault by beating and cruelty to a child under 16.

The trial continues.

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