A TEACHER turned to drink after her life was “devastated” following an attack, a hearing was told.
As a result, Helen Fletcher was prosecuted for drink-driving and eventually dragged in front of Scotland’s teaching watchdog.
The physical education teacher, who worked at a secondary school in Aberdeenshire, had been found guilty of driving under the influence and refused to provide a breath test in 2012.
But at a hearing with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) last month, it was revealed that she had been the victim of a horrific attack which led to her becoming an alcoholic.
Much of the GTCS report is redacted, but it does include details from a disciplinary hearing which took place following the driving offence.
It states: “The last 18 months had been a very difficult time in her life regarding her dependency issue and…health condition.
“She had been the victim of…. The police had been unable to ascertain who the perpetrator was.
“This had a devastating impact on her life and she had self-medicated with alcohol.
“She had tried to attend…meetings since her conviction but felt that this was not the right support for her at the time as she was the only functioning alcoholic.
“In mid-2014, she admitted that she had an addiction, was working towards sobriety and her…health was now better.”
It was revealed that the teacher felt she was an “unfortunate victim of circumstances” in regards to her drink-driving conviction.
The hearing documents read: “She had been driving and stopped at the pub for one drink.
“She did not think that she was fit to drive and so called a taxi and sat in her car to wait for it.
“The keys were not in the ignition. Someone from inside the pub called the police, who arrived at the pub at the same time as the taxi.
“The Respondent took legal advice but pleaded guilty because she was told that, otherwise, she would be given a custodial sentence.”
She was disqualified from driving for three years, and so made arrangements to travel to and from the school where she worked.
She was given a final written warning in 2013 after failing to disclose her conviction to her employers, and has been on sick leave since February 2014.
During the GTCS hearing, the Presenting Officer argued that Ms Fletcher “did place the public at risk” although “no individual was injured as a result of her actions”.
However, Mr Wapplington, who was speaking in defence of Ms Fletcher, said that she had “made a serious error in judgement” but that her fitness to teach was not impaired.
He added that she “had been battling her addiction for four years but was now engaged in support” and “has made significant strides and has begun to reintegrate into society”.
The GTCS panel ruled that Ms Fletcher be handed a Conditional Registration Order, which means her conduct will be monitored to minimise any potential risk of harm.
The hearing notes state that: “The panel was of the view that the Respondent’s employer is well aware of her difficulties with alcohol misuse and will require to offer her appropriate support following an 18-month period of sickness leave.
“The respondent had accepted that she had a problem with alcohol misuse and had sought to engage with appropriate support services, which demonstrated that she had sufficient insight in order to be able to comply with these conditions.”
They also ordered that a Reprimand be recorded against her name until 30 June 2016, to “indicate to the profession and the public the gravity of her conduct”.