Black teacher assaulted and 'racially abused', court told

A black head teacher was assaulted and racially abused by two "out of control" pupils at a Devon school for problem children, Exeter Youth Court has heard.

Alice Gabbidon was allegedly head-butted and had her hair pulled at the school in Dunkeswell in November.

The pupils - an 11-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl - had previously been restrained by other members of staff.

The boy denies assaulting Miss Gabbidon and the girl denies racially-aggravated common assault.

Prosecutor Beth Heaton told the court that the school, which has now closed because of funding issues, catered for a small number of "problem" children.

'Monkey noises'

Bad behaviour was commonplace, she said, but on the day of the assaults the two young pupils were "out of control" and had caused damage to the property and physically assaulted a member of staff over the course of a few hours.

Staff were soaked with water bombs, washing-up liquid was squirted into the eyes of one teacher, and the head's office was "trashed", she said.

"There is no dispute between the prosecution and defence that their behaviour was disorderly that day," Ms Heaton added.

The court was told the teenage girl, who now lives in Bridgwater, Somerset, made racially offensive comments to Miss Gabbidon and "monkey noises".

The girl also armed herself with a piece of wood but the prosecution said that was not used in the alleged attack.

Miss Heaton told the court the pupils were disruptive when they arrived at school because they had been caught smoking in the toilets on two occasions, including the morning of the alleged attack.

Miss Gabbidon said in evidence she had previously ignored name-calling and racial comments from the teenage girl, although she was expelled for a short time after the alleged incident involving the monkey noises.

The head teacher said the boy, from Llanelli, in Carmarthenshire, was "a follower more than a leader".

Ms Heaton said Miss Gabbidon did not use excessive force to restrain the two defendants, but she was suspended and a month later the school was closed down.

The trial continues.

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