Caning storm head is cleared

By Keith Deves

A HEADMASTER accused of caning a schoolboy “with considerable force” on his bottom was cleared of assault yesterday — on the orders of a judge.

Last night, the boy’s furious mum blasted the decision, saying it means the head was free to carry on beating up pupils.

John Pearman allegedly hit 13-year-old Barry Tavner five times with a bamboo stick — leaving severe bruising.

The blows were said to be a punishment for failing exams at his £1470-a-term private school.


Barry shows his woundsBut Judge Christopher Hordern directed a jury to acquit Pearman, 38, of causing actual bodily harm.

The judge told Knightsbridge Crown Court: “If you get a beating you must expect it to be with force.”

But Barry’s widowed mum Theresa stormed afterwards: “I am shocked.

“It gives the head carte blanche to carry out what I believe are beatings.”

Now Mrs Tavner is threatening to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The court heard that Pearman told police he “administered the cane firmly, but not excessively or immoderately.”

Afterwards Barry, now 14, left Friern Barnet Grammar School in North London for a state school. Caning will be illegal in state schools from next month.

Mrs Tavner and her son were supported by STOPP, the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment.

STOPP official Tom Scott said Judge Hordern clearly thought it acceptable for children to be injured by caning.

Mr Pearman said outside court: “I am obviously very satisfied at the intelligent judgment made in this case.”