Teacher should have been jailed over assault, boy’s mum says

Gavin Atkinson has been sentence to 100 hours of community service. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly
Gavin Atkinson has been sentence to 100 hours of community service. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly

A BOY who was attacked by his teacher has become a “completely different laddie” since the incident, according to his mother.

She said former city science teacher Gavin Atkinson should have been jailed for the assault on her 13-year-old son and for making sexual comments to a girl of the same age.

If somebody went out and assaulted somebody’s kid on the street, they would get the jail for that.

Victim’s mother

Instead, Atkinson, 58, was yesterday ordered to carry out just 100 hours of unpaid work – a sentence described as “no justice” by the boy’s mother.

Atkinson, of Crocketford near Dumfries, was found guilty in April of repeatedly pushing her son on the body and pressing his body against a doorway with his knee in 2013.

He was also convicted of telling the girl that he could see her underpants – but was found not guilty of making comments of a sexual nature to the boy.

Speaking to the News after Atkinson was handed a community payback order at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, the boy’s mum said: “He stole two-and-a-half years of my son’s life. My son spent two years in his room and hardly went out. I don’t know if he’ll ever be the same again.”

She tearfully added: “I have seen people getting the jail for less. If somebody went out and assaulted somebody’s kid on the street, they would get the jail for that.”

Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC told the court that Atkinson had lost his career and his marriage – and said he was convinced there was no sexual motivation behind his comments to the girl.

He said: “All in all, your behaviour appears to have been some misguided and bizarre attempt to control children, who themselves have been honest enough to admit their behaviour could be challenging.”

But he added: “Parents send their children to school expecting them to the safe and treated properly and respectfully by their teachers. You have failed dismally in that respect.”

During Atkinson’s trial, the court had heard that the boy had been told to wait behind at the end of the school day for detention, but tried to leave to meet his mum waiting in the car park.

The boy, now 16, said Atkinson stopped him from leaving.

He said: “As I tried to walk past, he pushed me. I tried to get past, but he pushed me again. I tried to crawl through his legs, but he grabbed me by the shoulders and chest. I remember him saying, ‘You are not going to move 18 stone’.”

He said Atkinson used his knee to jam his shoulder on the door, leaving the boy in a sling.

As for the remarks to the girl, Atkinson said she was being disruptive, showing off and refusing to come down after opening a window. “I thought I might embarrass her by saying I could see her knickers,” he said.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk