Underley Hall school owner 'headbutted pupil'

Underley Hall
Image caption Youngsters referred to Underley Hall came from "challenging family backgrounds," the court heard

A former pupil at a private boarding school was headbutted by the owner in a dining room full of other children, a court has heard.

Derrick Cooper attacked the youngster at Underley Hall, in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, Carlisle Crown Court was told.

Mr Cooper, now 77, and four ex-members of staff deny allegations of cruelty and actual bodily harm.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place at the school during the 1970s and 80s.

Giving evidence, the former pupil told the jury he had been fighting with another boy in a dormitory before going to the dining hall for tea.

'Fingers in my eyes'

He said Mr Cooper left his table and approached him.

"He headbutted me. I fell to the floor," he said.

"He gave me a few kicks around the body. He picked me up by the scruff of the neck.

"He tried to put his fingers in my eyes. He said 'I'll take your eyes out'."

The witness told the court he believed Mr Cooper assaulted him as a result of the dormitory fight.

Under cross-examination, he said he had latterly described Mr Cooper in a statement as "all right", "jovial" and "pretty fair".

Prosecutors allege 10 boys were subjected to violence and humiliation.

Mr Cooper, of Hillberry Green, Douglas, Isle of Man, denies six charges of actual bodily harm and two of cruelty to a person under 16.

Fred Taylor, 75, of Lower Park Royd Drive, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire; James Robert Farish, 58, of Oakwood, Kendal; David Hadwin, 71, of Raygarth Gardens, Kirkby Lonsdale; and 66-year-old John Studley, of Maryland Close, Silverdale, Lancashire, deny actual bodily harm.

The trial continues.

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