Public school principal guilty of attack

A SUFFOLK public school principal found guilty of beating a dog walker with his hiking stick is unlikely to lose his job, it emerged today.John Sinclair, owner and principal of the independent Finborough School, was ordered yesterday to pay a fine, compensation and prosecution costs totalling £900.

A SUFFOLK public school principal found guilty of beating a dog walker with his hiking stick is unlikely to lose his job, it emerged today.

John Sinclair, owner and principal of the independent Finborough School, was ordered yesterday to pay a fine, compensation and prosecution costs totalling £900.

Sinclair, 55, of The Coach House, Great Finborough near Stowmarket, had denied, but was found guilty of assault by beating on September 24 last year after hitting a fellow dog walker after their dogs clashed.

St Edmundsbury magistrates heard yesterday that Malcolm Wyer, from Great Finborough, and his father, Michael, had been out for a walk on a public footpath adjoining Finborough School.


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They saw two Labrador dogs approaching and initially thought they were friendly until one of the animals attacked the Wyers' dog.

Malcolm Wyer then kicked one of Sinclair's dogs, claiming he had been trying to separate them and to prevent any harm coming to his animal.

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He alleged Sinclair – who claimed his black Labrador had been kicked four or five times with the force of a "rugby drop kick" – had then "steamed in" and hit him with a stick.

Michael Wyer told the court: "This was a frantic attack that happened very quickly. The man was demented. Blows were reigning down from all directions, he was trying to hit Malcolm.

"I was absolutely shocked and stunned by what was happening. Sinclair ran up to my son with a very heavy stick raised above his head which he then smashed down on my son's head.

"He proceeded to hit my son about six more blows made to the body because my son was doing his best to protect his head."

The court heard Malcolm Wyer had suffered bruising, swelling and chest and shoulder injuries, but had made a full recovery.

But Alan Wheetman, defending, accused Michael Wyer of exaggerating to protect his son, whom he claimed had gone over the top in kicking Sinclair's dog.

Sinclair said he had found the experience frightening and had felt in danger as he had been alone in a wood as dusk fell.

He admitted striking Malcolm Wyer once to distract him from hitting the dog, adding his stick had snapped with that single blow.

Both Michael Wyer and his son declined to comment after the hearing, but Sinclair said: "It may be an old-fashioned view, but I feel I have a duty to look after those who depend on me.

"My dog depends on me absolutely and I have no regrets about my action I took defending him. I believe what I did was right."

A spokesman for the Independent Schools Association said the incident had been a one-off that did not affect his role at the school or within the association.

He added ISA would take note of the outcome of the case, but did not expect to take any action.

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