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BBC News, Wednesday February 14, 2007

Schoolboy to face bully charges

The High Court in London has given the go-ahead for a boy to face a criminal trial following alleged bullying incidents at a Hertfordshire school.

Lawyers for the boy, who was 11 at the time of the incidents, warned against the "unnecessarily swamping" of the youth courts with school fight cases.

But two senior judges ruled that it was open to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to bring charges.

The boy was charged with assaulting two classmates in October, last year.

Mr Justice Lloyd Jones told how the boy, who cannot be named because of his age, but is identified in court as "H", was of previous good character and claimed he was defending himself. He was disciplined by the school.

It was alleged that he had punched and kicked one of the boys during lessons, and then there had been a second, more prolonged incident involving both alleged victims outside the class. H said he had been defending himself.

Ms Jemma Levinson, appearing for H at the High Court, submitted that the decision to prosecute was flawed as the incidents did not justify the financial cost of criminal proceedings.

'Playground fights'

She said: "Both incidents involve school fights, no injury of any sort, no damage to clothing - nothing exceptional, in my submission.

"I am not suggesting this behaviour ought to be tolerated, but it is exactly the sort of behaviour the chairman of the Youth Justice Board said was properly dealt with 'in situ', in school, and there should be no swamping of the youth courts unnecessarily".

Lady Justice Hallett said the incidents complained of were "fairly typical" of the playground fights which "in my day would have been dealt with by the school" and she was surprised that an 11-year-old was getting prosecuted.

But she agreed with Mr Justice Lloyd Jones that the CPS had a wide discretion on whether or not to prosecute, and the decision to go ahead in H's case with charges of common assault was not contrary to any settled policy.

The school in question is in the Welwyn and Hatfield area.

© BBC MMVII


Daily Mail, Friday March 4, 2005

Girl of 11 dies after 'attack by mob of bullies'.

‘Shy and quiet’ pupil may have been targeted on way home from school

A girl of 11 died two days after being attacked by a mob of female tearaways.

Alisa Haywood, described as `shy and quiet', was allegedly targeted by the gang of bullies on her way home from school. Detectives believe she may been targeted on a school bus or in a shopping centre.

A girl of 12 - thought to be from Alisa's school - was arrested on suspicion of assault 24 hours after the youngster's `unexplained death'. Alisa was taken to hospital by ambulance at about 5am last Friday and died of `acute swelling of the brain' that morning.

Police are investigating the theory that the fatal injury was inflicted by bullies after reports that she was singled out by a gang of girls in the lead-up to her death. Last night officers said they were keeping an `open mind' until the results of further forensic and neurological tests are received.

Alisa, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, is believed to have been attacked going home on Wednesday last week from Wye Valley School in nearby Bourne End. Detectives believe it could have happened in the Octagon shopping centre in High Wycombe town centre. Alisa told her mother Stephanie what had happened and she reported it to police.

Miss Haywood described her daughter as a ‘wonderful and happy girl’ from a large extended family and the eldest of four sisters.
‘She will be sadly missed by all who knew her,’ she said in a statement. ‘Alisa enjoyed English and cookery and was a lively, thoughtful girl with a bubbly personality.’ ‘She enjoyed listening to Asian and R&B music, and loved spending time with her younger sisters at home and helping her mum about the house.’

In a statement, Alisa's grandparents added: ‘The whole family has been devastated. This is a terrible time for us.’‘She has been robbed of her life at such a young age.’

Linda Melton, headteacher at 800 pupil Wye Valley School, said Alisa was a ‘quiet, shy little girl who always looked immaculate.’ She added: ‘She was making steady progress in her lessons and worked very well with teachers.’

Police later released the 12-year-old girl on bail.

By Stephen Wright, Chief Crime Correspondent


Daily Mail, Friday, March 4, 2005

Bullies use Mobiles to film attack on boy, 11

Victim wanted to kill himself as images were sent round school

A boy of 11 was beaten by a school gang who videoed the attack with mobile phone cameras and sent the images to classmates.

Dean Murray's ordeal was the latest example of a new bullying craze. He was surrounded by more than a dozen boys aged 15 and 16 who held his arms and legs, repeatedly punched him and twisted his face and ears. Some recorded the attack on mobile phones which double as video cameras. The footage was then sent to others with similar phones and Dean suffered more humiliation as classmates laughed at his plight. He later threatened to kill himself because of the bullying.

Fears have already been raised that the latest wave of mobile phones - known as `third generation' or 3G and equipped with cameras and video reorders - are being increasingly used to bully vulnerable youngsters. Research shows 4.5million children have a mobile phone, including 95 per cent of 15 and 16year-olds, and experts believe the intimidation will grow.

Dean's parents Tracy, 37, and Darren, 35 - who have withdrawn their son from St Wilfred's Comprehensive School in South Shields on Tyneside - called for heads to put an immediate stop to the craze. Mr Murray said: `To some parents it is comforting for their children to have a mobile phone, it is a means of keeping in touch. `But in this case it has been used as a weapon of the bullies and I think schools must look at limiting mobile phone use in school. `I would favour phones being handed in at the start of the day and collected by pupils at the end. They simply don't need them in school.' Dean, who has dyslexia, was sent home shaking, weeping and vomiting through shock on the day of the attack.

He initially tried to keep it from his mother, who is recovering from a brain haemorrhage, but she was told about it by one of his friends. Mrs Murray said: `It makes my blood run cold when I think of how frightened and alone Dean must have felt. `To record the incident and keep it as some kind of trophy is just sick. To me, that is the most disturbing element of all this.'

The Murrays reported the incident to the school, which has excluded a pupil it believes was one of the gang. Headmistress Christine Wright said: `The boy who took the photograph has been excluded with the full support of his parents, who are devastated by his actions.'
Michelle Elliott, from the children's charity Kidscape, said: `As technology improves, kids who are bullies will find ways to use it to bully other kids. It is horrible that a boy could feel suicidal.'

By Dan Parkinson