Ex-headteacher cleared of assaulting pregnant women

Derek Curran was dismissed after an investigation into his conduct at Castlebrae Community High. Picture: Julie Bull
Derek Curran was dismissed after an investigation into his conduct at Castlebrae Community High. Picture: Julie Bull

A FORMER headteacher has been cleared of assaulting two pregnant women.

Derek Curran, former principal at Castlebrae Community High, faced a string of allegations of violent behaviour over a 15-year period from 1999 until 2014.

But six of the charges against him were thrown out after one of the two women, Louise Turnbull, decided not to give evidence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday.

Speaking to the Evening News today, Curran, 56, said he had been vindicated by the outcome.

He said: “For the past two years these allegations have been hanging over me.

“Now, following the court’s decision to dismiss the charges, people will know that, as I have said all along, I am completely innocent.”

Curran, of Brunstane Road, pleaded guilty to a separate charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at the Sick Kids Hospital in January 2014.

But he was cleared of a series of assaults on his estranged wife Anne Bergseng and another woman, Ms Turnbull.

Charges against him included repeatedly punching Ms Bergseng on the body while she was pregnant – as well as pushing and hitting her while she was driving a car.

He was also accused of punching Ms Turnbull on the head and body while she was pregnant and later, in a separate incident, slamming a door onto her, seizing hold of her hair, repeatedly punching her on the head and grabbing her by the throat. The latter attack was alleged to have happened while Curran was released on bail after he initially appeared in court in July 2014.

Curran was acquitted of the charges after Ms Turnbull told the court by email that she was no longer prepared to give evidence and would not be attending.

Sheriff Kenneth McGowan admonished the former teacher for the incident in the hospital, which saw him “behave in an aggressive manner” and “refuse to leave the ward”.

Curran was at Castlebrae for much of the 1980s, before becoming headteacher at Forrester High for six years.

The so-called “super-head” was parachuted into Castle­brae Community High again in 2014, tasked with reversing its fortunes amid poor exam results, falling rolls and the threat of closure.

Under his watch, a £30,000 scheme saw the school become the first in Edinburgh to give all its pupils mini-iPads.

But he was suspended and then sacked last year after an investigation into his conduct at the secondary school.

It is believed one of the reasons for the council’s decision to fire him was an insufficiently swift response to complaints made by a female learner about improper conduct by one of her teachers at the school.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk