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Sunday Life

I didn't hit pupils with nettles, insists suspended Northern Ireland school caretaker

Man suspended after children tell parents he stung them

Bartoz Czernicki
Bartoz Czernicki

By Christopher Woodhouse

THIS is the primary school caretaker who has furiously denied hitting young kids with stinging nettles.

Bartoz Czernicki was arrested by police after parents reported incidents to the principal of Abbots Cross primary school in the Rathcoole estate.

Mr Czernicki told Sunday Life he had been suspended by the school and strenuously denied attacking the children.

"Don't believe any of it, it is far from the truth," he said.

"The picture is of a mad man but I am in a good way to recover from this. I am gathering all the evidence."

Parents went to see the school principal after being told what happened by their children.

It is understood a group of children had been playing a game before the incident allegedly involving Mr Czernicki occurred.

"It just appeared to get out of hand at some point when nettles became involved," a source said.

Following the incidents, school principal Joanne Griffith sent a message to parents reassuring them that an investigation was under way.

"In Abbots Cross Primary School the wellbeing of our pupils is our first priority," it said.

"All relevant bodies have been informed by the school about the incident on May 15 and a full investigation is being carried out."

The Education Authority (EA) has said it is investigating the incident.

"EA is taking this allegation seriously and a full investigation is being carried out. The safety and well being of pupils is of the utmost importance to EA and as such the allegations will be fully and thoroughly investigated," it said.

The PSNI confirmed a man had been arrested and questioned about the incident on May 15 and released on bail pending further enquiries.

Shortly after the incident, one parent whose five-year-old son was one of those allegedly stung during the incident, told journalists of her shock.

The mum, who didn't wish to be named, told Belfast Live: "He told me at tea-time what had happened. It wasn't until I noticed other parents talking about it that I thought I needed to ask him to go over it again.

"He said he was stung on the arm and I checked him and he's fair skinned and he's still marked from it.

"I was raging when I found out, that it even happened in the first place."

The woman added: "I went to see the principal after I dropped him off and there were about five or six parents there at that time, but I know another couple were going to the police after seeing the headmistress."

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