Teacher cleared of attack on teen

A TEACHER accused of assaulting a teenager has been found not guilty after a gruelling, emotionally fraught trial.

A TEACHER accused of assaulting a teenager has been found not guilty after a gruelling, emotionally fraught trial.

John Dugdale, 47, worked as a design and technology teacher at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook for nearly 20 years before he was suspended amid allegations he had assaulted the teenager on premises owned by the school.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, reported Mr Dugdale to the police on September 15 last year, claiming he had hit and kicked the teenager.

Adam Budworth, defending, told the court how Dugdale had previously worked with children with behavioural disorders before coming to the Royal Hospital School as a house master in 1987.

Mr Budworth reminded the court of evidence heard by character witnesses in the first part of the trial, which took place on June 21, describing the young accuser as being a “Jekyll and Hyde” character and a child of “high excitement”.

In his defence, Mr Dugdale, who has a degree in furniture design, produced detailed diagrams and photographs of the room where the attack was alleged to have taken place.

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Mr Dugdale described how the door to the room had “sprung” against his arm as he attempted to push it open, causing the door to hit the teenager on the head.

He denied losing his temper and denied the second charge of assault whereby he was accused of kicking the child on the side with his foot.

Mr Budworth said: “We are not saying that this was a deliberate, malicious falsification but what we do say is that it was an accident and an exaggeration, an embellishment on the facts.”

Mr Dugdale was found not guilty on both charges by magistrates at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court.

Chairman of the bench, Judith Palmer, said: “We do not believe the account because it contains a lot of inconsistencies and they were in an emotional state at the time of the incident.”

At the end of the trial those in the public gallery broke down in tears and Mr Dugdale, who has four children, looked visibly relieved as the not guilty verdict was read out by magistrates.

In a statement to The Evening Star, Mr Dugdale said: “In such cases there are no winners, only losers.

“The last ten months have been very difficult for my family and I, and we would like to thank our family and friends for their support during this period.”

Mr Dugdale told the Star he was looking forward to resuming his teaching career in September.

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