Father attacked headteacher of Penhill school after son excluded

Paul Stratford at court yesterday

Headteacher Zita McCormick

First published in News by

PARENT Paul Stratford attacked the headteacher of Seven Fields Primary School after his eight-year-old son was suspended for allegedly swearing and racially abusing another pupil.

The 30-year-old pushed Zita McCormick in the chest in the foyer of the Penhill school in front of staff during a heated altercation on June 22.

Stratford, of Beaulieu Close, Toothill, pleaded not guilty, saying he was protecting his son, Brendan. He said he did not push her but only grabbed and gently pushed away her wagging finger from his son’s face, as he feared her long nails could blind him.

But Swindon magistrates yesterday found him guilty as they believed the headteacher’s evidence.

They released him on unconditional bail for sentencing on December 5.

Mrs McCormick said she had decided to exclude Brendan for the rest of the day because he had sworn in front of a group of visitors from Spain – the third incident that week – and had also been involved in racially abusing a Somali boy.

She called his mother to collect him, but his father arrived and demanded to see her. She said she tried to explain the situation and calm him down, but he was very angry, waving his arms around, saying “You called my son a ****ing thug”.

“Mr Stratford made two huge steps and actually punched and pushed me and said ‘Don’t tell my son off’”, she said. “The punch came first and then it was a push. It was almost like a fist and a hand and I came backwards.

“I said ‘Don’t hit the headteacher’. It’s quite shocking and it’s very frightening.”

Stratford said he was concerned because Brendan was crying and claimed the headteacher had pushed him against a door while he was trying to put on his trainers and called him a thug because of his haircut.

Stratford said he asked her repeatedly why she had called him a thug, but she would not answer, instead wagging her finger inches from Brendan’s face and accusing him of swearing.

Her finger was so close he was forced to put his head down to avoid being caught in his eye, and after repeatedly asking her to stop, Stratford said he took action.

“When she did it for the fourth time, I felt to protect my son I had to take direct action,” he said. “She was uncontrollable, she was close to his eye. I was worried about her pointing him in the eye and blinding him. And that’s when I thought I needed to do something to protect my kid.

“So with my left hand on the right hand she was pointing with, I grabbed her fingers gently and pushed her backwards.”

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