Teacher struck off after axe attack

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By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

AN ALCOHOLIC teacher has been struck off after being convicted of smashing his girlfriend’s front door in with an axe.

William McMenamy, 54, from Skye, was convicted of a breach of the peace charge at Dingwall Sheriff Court last August following the drunken attack.

McMenamy, who had just completed a term working as a supply English teacher at Portree High School, Skye, at the time of the incident, was subsequently sectioned for two months by the court as an alternative to a jail term.

Yesterday, a General Teaching Council (Scotland) sub-committee decided the severity of his conviction brought the teaching profession into disrepute and struck his name from the teaching register for at least 12 months.

The hearing heard the former teacher, who also suffers from bi-polar disorder, was arrested three weeks ago on a drink-drive charge.

Drink-driving charge

He allegedly drove a car, without possessing a driving licence, to his local hospital late at night to seek medical help for his condition.

Staff at the hospital refused McMenamy treatment because he was drunk and decided to call the police.

He is due to appear on charges relating to that incident in August.

McMenamy turned to teaching in 1997 but found it difficult to find employment due to his bi-polar disorder. He was also given a “very bad reference” by a former employer which also hindered his professional progress.

THE GTCS panel heard, previous to his conviction, McMenamy’s marriage had fallen apart and his new girlfriend had taken financial advantage of him.

McMenamy’s legal representative explained that the former-teacher believed his life had “fallen to pieces” after losing his wife, his home and his financial independence.

Axe attack

Last summer, he turned up at his girlfriend’s home at Edinbane, Skye, and tried to smash his way into the premises with an axe.

The terrified woman was forced to call police before the attack escalated further.

The subsequent court case saw McMenamy ordered to be kept in hospital for treatment for his bi-polar disorder and alcohol abuse for two months.

He is currently attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

In recommending a striking off order to be placed on McMenamy, Robbie Burnett, the legal representative for the GTCS, said: “Police have said he smashed his way into her house with an axe. Unfortunately, mental health and alcohol abuse are no excuse for this type of behaviour.

“Would we want our children and grandchildren taught by somebody with such a propensity for violence?

“I am conscious of the fact we should have some sympathy for Mr McMenamy, but I feel he should be struck from the teaching register.”

Struck off for “extreme violence”

The GTCS panel said: “The respondent admitted the offence was a relevant misconduct. In any event, the sub-committee considered the offence to have material relevance to the respondent’s fitness to be a teacher, and furthermore that it constituted conduct which fell short of the standard expected of a registered teacher.

“The sub-committee was unanimously of the view that the offence called into question the respondent’s fitness to be a teacher. They were satisfied that the conduct concerned at the time of the offence demonstrated behaviour short of that expected of a registered teacher.

“In particular, given the extreme violence narrated in the criminal charge, the sub-committee was of the view that it would not be in the public’s interest for the respondent to continue as a registered teacher.

“In this connection the sub-committee had regard to the level of safety afforded young people in schools, and the public expectation in that regard.”

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