Teacher on temporary suspension for online chat with pupil avoids jail

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A DISGRACED teacher who faces being struck off in two weeks time after trying to entice a female pupil to his home has narrowly avoided jail.

Richard Cantwell, 37, from Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire, was temporarily suspended by the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) in October after allegedly communicating with the girl on MSN Messenger.

The council heard that on March 22 last year the former school teacher tried to persuade the pupil to get a taxi to his house and sent his phone number asking her to call him.

At the hearing, the council heard details of the chat in which the girl told him: “I shouldn’t even be talking to you on this, never mind on the phone.”

Cantwell, who used to teach at All Saints RC Secondary School in Glasgow, apparently told the pupil she was “stunning” and “beautiful”, before offering her money to get to his house.

When Cantwell asked if she knew how to order a taxi she responded: “Of course I do. No, because that’s even worse, it is even more wrong for a pupil to go to a teacher’s house.”

He carried out the online chat despite having being told by head teacher Gerry Lyon not to make contact with students through social networking sites just two days before.

Carole Ford, convener of the GTC hearing, said they had decided to suspend Cantwell until they could hear evidence at his full hearing this month.

But since the decision was made less than two months ago, the former teacher has found himself in another spot of bother.

At Airdrie Sheriff Court this week he was sentenced to 240 hours of community service after he admitted brandishing a five-foot metal pole and making threats of violence.

He was caught by police last year in Chapelhall shouting aggressively and wielding the pole at another man in the street.

Fiscal depute Kevin Henry told the court: “He shouted, ‘come ahead, ya b******’, to another male in the street and continued shouting out, ‘ya f****** b******’.”

He said when Cantwell noticed the police he dropped the pole and walked towards them, and officers believed he was under the influence of alcohol.

Ms McBride, Cantwell’s solicitor, said the pole was “used to support himself after a leg injury”.

She said: “He maintains there was a certain level of provocation as he was shouting at somebody known to him – when he passed that man, he said hello, which initiated a barrage of abuse.

“At that, he became aggressive – he accepts responsibility for this, realises he was out of order in his retaliation and is sorry that he finds himself in court today.”

She said he had a “clear issue” with alcohol, but had not touched any since May this year.

Sheriff Dickson said: “This is a responsible person who has held down a good job as a school teacher; whether he is still suitable to remain is a matter for the General Teaching Council.

“He is quite unable to keep himself under control – this was in a public place, waving around a five-foot metal pole in an aggressive manner.”

Cantwell will find out if he has been permanently struck off the teaching register at another GTCS hearing on December 14.

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