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Teacher assault mum outraged as incident ends up in the courts

By Deborah McAleese

A mother-of-six who received a suspended jail term for assaulting her son’s primary school teacher during a heated row over bottled water said she thinks it is “ridiculous” that she was hauled before the courts.

Downpatrick woman Lisa Blythe said she “just snapped” and threw a bottle at the ground close to the teacher after being told she had sent her 10-year-old son to school with the wrong type of water.

Blythe received a two-month prison sentence suspended for two years at Downpatrick Magistrates Court last week and was fined £200 for the assault which took place on May 14 last year at St Colmcille’s Primary School.

The 34-year-old from Marian Park said she is relieved she did not end up in jail but added that she believes the whole incident was blown out of proportion and that the case should never have ended up in the courts.

“A mountain was made out of a molehill. People have done much worse and ended up with lesser sentences and fines,” she said.

“The bottle was plastic and it never hit the teacher, I never intended it to hit her. I threw it at the ground out of frustration after I found out she had taken my son’s water from him because it was flavoured. It was something silly that got out of hand. This could have been resolved without having to go to court.”

Blythe said she was upset when she discovered the teacher had not allowed her son to drink the water because it was flavoured and therefore against the school’s healthy eating policy, which only allows plain, still water.

She said she had been under pressure following her mother’s death and she just snapped. Blythe said the incident was a culmination of a number of difficulties in her personal life and frustrations over schooling for her son who, she said, suffers from the highest level of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.

“I thought the way this was all handled was very harsh. I tried again and again to apologise for losing my temper but it wasn’t accepted,” she said.

“I am sorry for what happened but I think it went too far bringing it to court. I’d like to be able to get on with my life now, but how can I with a suspended sentence hanging over my head? This has really affected everyone in my family, especially my son.”

Previously a court was told that there had been ongoing problems between Blythe and the teacher about teaching her son. The court heard that during the row the school caretaker had to close some classroom doTeacher assault mum outraged as incident ends up in the courtsors so children could not hear Blythe’s “abusive language” and that she threw the bottle of water at the teacher causing her left hip to “smart”.

Sentencing Blythe, District Judge Mervyn Bates told her he was considering sending her to jail but decided to suspend the sentence after reading about her remorse over the attack in an article in the Belfast Telegraph.

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