THE public would be “appalled” if a teacher who sent bullets to a man who slept with his wife was allowed to stay in the profession, a hearing was told.
Michael Gaffney also described his love rival as a “n*****” and even tried to track down the man’s partner, resulting in a criminal conviction.
Despite the seriousness of his crime, Gaffney, from Gourock, Inverclyde, is now trying to convince the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) not to strike him off.
At the hearing in Edinburgh, Gaffney’s lawyer argued the incident, during which the history and modern studies teacher called his rival a rapist and drug dealer, was a one off.
But Natalie McCartney, case presenter for the GTCS, told the hearing: “Michael Gaffney was convicted with a serious racial offence. He knew his behavior was wrong. He knew what he was doing.
“He admitted trying to frighten and seek retribution. He has brought the teaching profession into disrepute.”
Ms McCartney added that “public would be appalled” if the panel were to allow him to carry on teaching.
Referring to Gaffney’s victim, Rudy Irion, she went on: “It was a very serious conviction. He engaged them through social media. He said Rudy was as rapist and under investigation by the police.”
Ms McCartney said he also involved Mr Irion’s partner, Marie Bradley. “He tried to find their house,” she said. “He went to the Holiday Inn Express in Greenock to find Marie. He sent letters to their neighbours saying he was a rapist and a drug dealer.
“He attended their house and demanded to speak causing fear and alarm. He then sent a postal package with imitation bullets.”
Gaffney’s lawyer, Jamie Foulis, told the hearing: “The respondent is horrified at his conduct. It wasn’t him. His behaviour took place in response to what was going on in his personal life.”
Mr Foulis continued: “He accepts responsibility for his actions. He was not in a good place but accepts it.
“The respondent’s conduct was unacceptable and must not be repeated. He has reflected on his conduct and recognised the potential impact it could have.”
Referring to the community service Gaffney was ordered to undertake on conviction at Greenock Sheriff Court, he said: “He accepted his sentence and complied with it.
“He does not represent a risk to members of the public and there is no evidence of this type of behaviour in a classroom during his 26 year career.”
Clarifying why Mr Gaffney’s behaviour won’t repeat itself, Mr Foulis said: “He was experiencing personal and health troubles that were uniquely difficult.
“The respondent is completely different now then at time of offending behaviour. He’s much better physically and mentally and doing all he can to maintain that progress.”
Family members provided evidence that Gaffney’s conduct was out of character, including from Laura Thornton, who told the hearing: “A perfect storm engulfed his response which led to uncharacteristic behaviour. My brother was very ill. He’s a different person now. He’s turned his life around.”
Mr Gaffney was sentenced on 12 August last year to 240 hours unpaid community work to be completed within six months.
Mr Gaffney, who taught at Ardnamurchan High School in the Highlands, found out that his new wife, Liliya, was having an affair with Mr Irion.
Mr Gaffney then engaged in a social media and in-person harassment campaign over seven months, from the 1 March 2015 to 1 November 2015.
Michael Gaffney sent Rudy Irion imitation bullets to his house and stalked him on social media, saying he was a rapist under investigation by the police, and even turning up to his house.
A furious Mr Gaffney also sent Rudy’s neighbours letters falsely saying Rudy was under investigation by the police for being a rapist and drug dealer.
In the letter to neighbours Mr Gaffney called Rudy a “n*****”.
Along with sending two imitation bullets, Mr Gaffney’s package also included the words: “One warning only. You will be shot.
“No more hiding behind doors and your woman: cowardly liar, crook and fraudster.
“Now a target.
“Remove from this address in Greenock now. Last chance.”
“Belfast Continuity. One warning only.”
The Highlands Council suspended Mr Gaffney from Ardnamurchan High School, where he taught History and Modern Studies, when he was sentenced in 2016.
A Highland Council spokesperson said: “Michael Gaffney does not work for Highland Council. We do not comment on personnel matters.”
According to the GTCS website, Gaffney was convicted of racial prejudice in August 2016 at Greenock Sheriff Court and was sentenced to a Community Payback Order including 240 hours of unpaid work.
The conviction has lead to Gaffney being infront of the teaching watchdog.
The charge against him on the GTCS website reads: “Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 S39(1) – Racial Prejudice.
“And on 12 August 2016, you were sentenced to a Community Payback Order including 240 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 6 months.
“In light of the above it is alleged that your fitness to teach is impaired and that you are unfit to teach as a result of breaching sections 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 and 5.3 of the CoPaC.”
The hearing continues.