Southport school care worker found guilty of assaulting autistic boy

A CARE worker at Peterhouse School dragged a severely autistic boy across the floor by his head, magistrates heard.

Margaret Garvey, 42, assaulted the eight-year-old while working at the school for autistic children.

The 42-year-old, of Priory Close, Burscough, was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay £300 in compensation and costs at North Sefton magistrates court on Tuesday (April 7).

The parents of the eight-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that they were “disgusted” by the court’s decision.

Magistrates heard their son, who is suffers from so many learning disabilities he cannot speak, was assaulted on April 17 last year. Garvey’s co-worker Dominic Butler raised the alarm after witnessing the incident as Garvey, of Priory Close, Formby, got the child ready for bed.

Marina Jay, prosecuting, said: “The care worker [Mr Butler] looked up and saw the child run across the corridor – with Garvey right behind him – and out of sight.

“The next minute, Garvey has hold of the right-hand side of his helmet, pulling his whole body with the helmet.

“His face was grimacing. He had his hand up as if he was in pain.”

The court heard after the boy was dragged across the corridor and into his room, he got to his feet and walked slowly to bed.

Ms Jay said: “He had gone from being a livewire to cold and upset.”

Garvey was found guilty of assault on March 17.

Afterwards, the boy’s mother, who also cannot be named, said: “We are disgusted. We wanted a custodial sentence or at least a suspended one.

“We feel the court have let our son down – he has no voice. We fought to get him into Peterhouse because basically we could not cope any longer and it was recognised our son needed a 24-hour curriculum.

“We even had to go through a tribunal to get him there, and eventually he started in September 2007.”

The family was made aware of the assault by social services.

The mother added: “It was harrowing to hear it all and we blame ourselves.

“We have no trust in anybody now. He has started at a new school and we have to build that trust up again.”

School spokesman Andrew Grainger said: “The organisation maintains stringent safeguarding procedures in respect of the vulnerable young people it supports.

“Following concerns regarding the practice of a member of staff, these procedures were implemented and the member of staff was suspended from duty.

“From this followed an investigation resulting in the prosecution of Margaret Garvey, who is no longer employed by this organisation.”