Northern Ireland

Teacher Stephen Downes convicted of child cruelty at special needs school

Lisburn courthouse
Stephen Downes was convicted of two charges at Lisburn Magistrates Court

A special needs teacher has been found guilty of cruelty to children after he assaulted two 12-year-old girls who have severe learning difficulties.

Stephen Downes, from Glebe Gardens in Moira, is a teacher at Parkview Special School, Lisburn, County Antrim.

He had denied hitting a child's face after she took another pupil's milk. He also denied assaulting a second girl who then fell against a radiator .

Parents of the two children said they were glad justice had been done.

They added that the case had been very difficult for their families.

The children both attend Parkview Special School where Downes has been a senior teacher since 1997.

The offences took place in late 2010 and early 2011.

He had faced a total of five charges but the judge at Lisburn magistrates court dismissed three of them and found him guilty of two charges.

Downes is due to be sentenced on 10 May.