Principal bashed by pupil's uncle

SAM BOYER AND SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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An Upper Hutt primary school principal suffered a split head and bruised ribs after a "sustained beating" from a relative of one of his pupils.

The pupil's uncle laid into St Joseph's School principal Peter Ahern during a meeting over his nephew, punching the stunned principal then kicking him while he was on the ground.

Mr Ahern said two uncles attended the meeting yesterday, about 9am.

The meeting had seemed to be going well, then one of the men "lost the plot".

"It was amicable, it was no problem . . . [but] at the end it all went pear shaped.

"He was quite good, he took three steps towards the door - and then all hell broke loose. It was a sustained beating, kicking me on the ground. I got stitches in the head and a few bruised ribs."

The other uncle eventually pulled the attacker off the principal but not until Mr Ahern had already been struck several times, leaving him requiring emergency treatment and eight stitches in the top of his head. "My secretary came in and tried valiantly to defend me but to no avail.

"It was in my office, so there's a fair bit of broken furniture too," Mr Ahern said.

A 39-year-old Lower Hutt man was later arrested and charged with assault. He will appear in the Upper Hutt District Court next week.

Senior Sergeant Jason McCarthy, of Upper Hutt, said the man had gone to the school to voice concerns over a matter to the principal. "They had a disagreement where the 39-year-old has struck out at the principal," Mr McCarthy said.

Mr Ahern said it was the first such incident at the Catholic primary school.

"It was uncles of the child; they were looking for the best interests of their child . . . [then] one of the guys lost the plot. I think he snapped. It's unusual for our place to have anything like that.

"I guess this is just what schools have to deal with these days. I mean, what's society coming to, how the hell can this guy come in and do this in my office?

"It just shouldn't be happening," Mr Ahern said.

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- The Dominion Post

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