Boy, two, bled to death in hospital after a complete failure of communication between doctors, inquest hears
A toddler bled to death on a hospital’s high dependency unit because of a delay in life-saving surgery and a ‘complete failure’ of communication between doctors, an inquest has heard.
Tharun Umashankar, aged two, died from bleeding of the stomach lining which was probably caused by his intolerance to milk.
He was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he had been been receiving treatment for the previous two weeks after vomiting blood. Despite having suffered a previous large internal bleed he was not slated for an endoscopy to look at his digestive system until the following day – a delay that proved fatal.
Independent expert Dr David Crabbe, a paediatric surgeon said the procedure would have found the bleeding and Tharun could have had a life-saving operation to remove part of his stomach. He told the Sheffield inquest: ‘What was a complete failure was the lack of collaboration between surgeons and gastro-enterologists. Closer teamwork would have resulted in a different outcome.’
Tharun’s distraught mother Sentamil, 38, broke down and sobbed as she told the hearing: ‘I believed they would cure him and make him well.’
The young boy had had three endoscopies at the hospital in the previous fortnight after vomiting blood and suffering stomach pain but was thought well enough to be discharged on Friday, July 9, 2010.
Consultant paediatric gastro-enterologist Dr David Campbell, who was in overall charge of Tharun although off duty that weekend, said he left instructions to be called if the boy had a serious bleed again.
Mrs Umashankar, who also has two daughters aged seven months and seven, left with her son but during the night he vomited blood again.
‘He cried and I felt he was in pain,’ she said. ‘His body was cool and exhausted.’
Tharun was rushed by ambulance to Barnsley District Hospital and several hours later was transferred to the Children’s Hospital unit on the afternoon of Saturday, July 10.
Mrs Umashankar said after doctors checked her son she noticed his nappy was ‘full of blood’ which she was worried about and claimed the wet bed covers had to be changed at least five times by nurses.
‘A nurse told me it was a good sign as the blood was coming through his faeces and not the mouth,’ she said.
Mrs Umashankar was then told by staff that Dr Campbell would perform another endoscopy on Tharun at 8am on the Sunday morning.
But in the middle of the night she noticed his stomach was distended and ‘swollen like a bubble.’ A doctor thought it might simply be a build-up of gas but at 4am Tharun vomited blood again.
The mother said ‘all the doctors were in panic and confused’ by 6.30am at which time Dr Campbell arrived. ‘I was really pleased, I believed he was going to save my son,’ Mrs Umashankar said.
But despite a blood transfusion, Tharun failed to respond and he died at 9am on the Sunday.
Paediatric registrar Dr Tafadzwa Makaya, whose job was to stabilise the boy, told the Sheffield inquest she had not been informed of any “red button plan” to alert Dr Campbell and a surgical team if there was a further bleed.
When she first saw Tharun he was sat up in bed watching CBeebies on a monitor with his mother and appeared stable. She was only called by a nurse at 4.30am when he vomited blood again.
She instructed he be given more fluid as he had low blood pressure and a raised pulse, called for closer monitoring and ordered some units of blood which should have been ready but were not so fresh ones had to be made up.
Dr Makaya said she alerted both the surgical and medical registrars to the situation and was told Dr Campbell would be coming in as planned to carry out an endoscopy at 8am.
When coroner Chris Dorries pointed out that Dr Campbell had asked to be made aware if there was any further bleeding she replied: ‘There was no red button plan delivered to me.’
Dr Michael Powers QC, for the family, put it to Dr Makaya: ‘Knowing that this is a significant bleed, you didn’t make any contact with anyone anywhere until 6.15am.’
She replied: ‘I assessed and I managed and then I contacted my superiors.’
Specialist paediatric registrar Dr James Pauling said he arranged for Dr Campbell to do the endoscopy on Sunday morning and there was no contingency plan in place.
He said: ‘I don’t recall him saying he had to be called back in the event of further bleeding.’
He himself was not told of any further fresh bleeding which could have been a ‘serious finding.’
Mrs Umashankar and her petrol station cashier husband Sivananthan, 42, ran a grocery store in Barnsley at the time but after the tragedy moved to live with relatives in Tooting, London. They came to the UK 12 years ago and are British nationals.
Dr Crabbe who reviewed the case said Tharun had a ‘mighty strange illness’ for a child and he had not come across such a case of catastrophic upper gastro-intestinal bleeding in a child before.
He said the Children’s Hospital was unique in that Tharun was admitted to the care of paediatricians rather than surgeons. The boy should have had an endoscopy on the Saturday which was an “error of judgment” by the doctors caring for him.
‘The benefits of identifying the cause of the bleeding far outweigh the potential risks,’ he said. ‘I would say Dr Campbell was taking a risk.’
Breast cancer betrayal of older women: Only one in seven over 70s are given chemotherapy
The betrayal of older women who develop breast cancer in Britain is exposed today. Eight out of ten are denied the chance of basic treatment simply on the basis of their age.
Those over 70 who are diagnosed with the disease have only a one-in-seven chance of receiving the chemotherapy that is the standard approach for younger patients. This means potentially lifesaving drugs are denied to women purely because they are regarded as too old, rather than whether they are fit enough or could benefit from treatment.
Britain’s survival rates for breast cancer are also alarmingly behind those of other developed nations. For women over 70, the gap in survival rates between the UK and Sweden stretches to 12 per cent.
Last night experts said the figures, from two separate studies, showed that older women were not being treated in a ‘fair and equal way’ by the NHS.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the charity Breast Cancer Campaign, said: ‘As nearly a third of new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women over 70, with this set to rise due to an ageing population, it’s vital that a consistent standard of care is given to every woman, whatever her age.’
The first study, from the University of Sussex, and Brighton & Sussex Medical School, shows just 14 per cent of patients over 70 with early breast cancer are offered chemotherapy after surgery. This treatment is considered standard for younger patients.
Older women could also be missing out on the benefits of the ‘wonder’ drug Herceptin because it works better when used in combination with chemotherapy.
And in nearly a third of cases, doctors decide how to treat patients over 70 without recording their fitness or testing their so-called HER2 status, to see if they are among the one in five who might respond to Herceptin.
The most shocking finding was that of the 45 per cent of patients at high risk of breast cancer returning, less than a third were offered chemotherapy.
Some hospitals did not give chemotherapy to any patient over 70, the research, funded by drug company Roche, found.
Professor Lesley Fallowfield, of the University of Sussex, said: ‘Elderly breast cancer patients should be assessed in the same way that younger patients are, based on their fitness and HER2 status, without prejudice or unreasonably ageist perceptions. This is essential information, and without it, you may as well guess as to the most appropriate treatment.
‘National guidelines need to be developed if elderly patients are to receive fair and equal assessment of their treatment requirements in future.’
The second study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, says although women under 70 have better survival rates everywhere for breast cancer, in the UK the gap between the chances of younger and older patients is the most marked.
Just 42 per cent of British women over 70 who are diagnosed with advanced breast cancer live for another year – compared with 60 per cent of younger women battling the disease.
The figures, from a study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and using data from 257,362 women diagnosed between 2000 and 2007 – suggest that those over 70 are missing out on more aggressive treatments.
Lead researcher Dr Sarah Walters said the latest figures suggest that the UK should ‘investigate whether the treatment of women with later-stage breast cancer meets international standards’.
‘There is particular concern that this is not the case, especially for older women,’ she said.
Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of early diagnosis, said Britain was starting to close the survival gap with other countries, but patients here ‘continue to fare worse’.
‘We know that UK women diagnosed with breast cancer are not routinely given CT scans to check if the disease has spread, which could mean we aren’t always accurately staging more advanced disease,’ she said.
‘But we also need to investigate the possibility that fewer women with later stage breast cancer in the UK receive the best treatment for their circumstances.’
The charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer and a cross-party group of MPs are working on an inquiry into the treatment of older people with breast cancer.
The charity says they are missing out on the advances in radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery over the last ten years that have so dramatically improved the survival chances of younger patients.
MP Steve Brine said: ‘We are deeply concerned by suggestions that older breast cancer patients are being denied access to the full treatment and support options that are available purely as a result of their age.’
Dr Rachel Greig, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: ‘We already know that the number of women over 70 receiving chemotherapy is low.
‘What is a cause for concern, in the study, is that in some cases treatment decisions were made without data on HER2 status. This information could have changed the way the patient was treated.’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘This study will help us keep improving breast cancer treatment as part of our cancer strategy to save an extra 5,000 lives a year by 2014.
‘The NHS is also working to ensure all patients are treated as individuals and receive care that meets their healthcare needs whatever their age or condition.’
British Headteacher and five staff suspended for restraining aggressive nine-year-old pupil and locking him in the ‘naughty cupboard’
A primary school’s headteacher and five of her colleagues have been suspended after an aggressive child was said to have been restrained and shut in a ‘naughty cupboard’.
Catherine Woodall, 61, and five colleagues were suspended amid claims that the nine-year-old child was placed in a lockable room after terrorising staff and pupils at Revoe Community Primary School in Blackpool, Lancashire.
Police were called in to investigate allegations of false imprisonment at the 489-pupil school and the six staff, including the head, were sent home.
There were also concerns at the council that staff sent other pupils to the box room whenever they misbehaved. The pupil was confronted by the school’s deputy headteacher in a corridor.
She blocked the boy’s path through the school and he started to kick out at her. Miss Woodall was not on the premises at the time, MailOnline understands, but has still been suspended.
Other senior members of staff at the school then put the boy in a hold. He was then placed in the small room with a glass window, known as the ‘naughty cupboard’, to calm him down.
A complaint was made and the local education authority called in police. The staff were suspended pending the outcome of a probe and have been formally interviewed by detectives.
Blackpool Council informed parents about what had happened in a letter sent out yesterday.
One member of staff, who has not been suspended, said today: ‘The issue is one of false imprisonment of a nine year old (because) the door on the small calming down room is lockable. This boy had really lost it. What were the staff supposed to do?’
In 2010 Miss Woodall picked up a top advisory and support role under a National College for School Leadership scheme, which means she can oversee headships in other ‘challenging’ schools.
Parents of children at the school were shocked at the suspensions. Mark Syme, 30, who has three children at Revoe and used to be a school governor, said he was ‘gobsmacked’.
Nicola Pearce, 46, who has one daughter at the school, said: ‘When I had a look at the letter I couldn’t believe it. One member of staff being suspended is bad enough but six is shocking.’
Luke Carter, 40, who has daughter at the school, added: ‘It’s always been a good school but this has worried me.’
A replacement head and teachers were sent to the school to cover the missing staff. A spokesman for Blackpool Council said the issue centred on the ‘professional judgement’ of school staff involved.
‘The issue is one of false imprisonment of a nine year old (because) the door on the small calming down room is lockable. This boy had really lost it. What were the staff supposed to do?’
Councillor Sarah Riding, cabinet member for education and schools on Blackpool Council, said: ‘Before half-term we were made aware of an issue at Revoe Primary School that raised concerns to us about the professional judgement made by a number of staff in relation to pupil wellbeing.
‘These concerns have led to the suspension of six members of staff while a full investigation is carried out. It would not be appropriate to comment further on the nature of the investigation until it has been concluded.
‘Although we have no reason to suspect any child has come to harm this is a serious situation that needed immediate action to be taken.
‘In the meantime temporary staff have been recruited and there will be no disruption to children’s learning. All parents will receive a letter explaining the current arrangements in place.’
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: ‘This allegation, like any allegation involving the well-being of young people, is being taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly investigated as our priority is the safeguarding of young people. No arrests have been made at this stage.’
The probe began months after the school was at the centre of a row over proposals to convert it into an academy.
Miss Woodall began consulting with parents and governors on the possibility of breaking away from council control and becoming an independent facility.
‘My son got put in this cupboard room. He got in a bit of trouble at the school last year and was put in a room for disruptive children. But next to that is the cupboard, which they use for children that won’t calm down”
Parent Emma Chadwick, 28, whose son was also put in ‘the cupboard’
But the move angered union officials and parents, who gathered outside the school gates to voice their disapproval over the proposed move.
One parent, mother-of-four Emma Chadwick, 28, of Blackpool, said her son Harley Marsh, seven, was also put in ‘the cupboard’.
She said: ‘My son got put in this cupboard room. He got in a bit of trouble at the school last year and was put in a room for disruptive children.
‘But next to that is the cupboard, which they use for children that won’t calm down. It’s a room with no windows and is tiny, almost like an under-stairs cupboard.
‘I was called to the school and when I got there he was in the corner of this room crying. It’s unbelievable that they would do that to children. The size of it is just so small – it really is like a cupboard.
‘I think they’ve been using it for a while and the council has acted now to stop it just because there have been so many complaints from parents. It is disgusting that children can be treated in this way when they are at school. It is not the way to discipline children.’
The letter announcing the suspensions of Miss Woodall and her colleagues was sent by Charlotte Clarke, head of the Labour-controlled council’s ‘Universal Services and School Effectiveness’ department. It said: ‘Before half term Blackpool Council became concerned about the professional judgement made by these staff in relation to the well-being of pupils when isolating them during challenging behaviour.
‘This has led to six staff being suspended. The suspensions are a neutral act to allow a full investigation to take place as quickly as possible.
‘I realise this will be concerning news and I am writing to reassure you that swift action has been taken and the priority of the council is always the well-being of pupils.
‘Whilst the investigation takes place, an experienced headteacher will be in school every day. Once the exact details are finalised I will write once again to let you known the arrangements.
‘Temporary members of staff are also in place to cover the other positions so there will be no disruption to your child’s learning. I appreciate your patience during this difficult time for Revoe and can assure that you will be kept updated throughout the process.’
Mother-of-three Felicity Crane, 32, said: ‘I got a letter from the council yesterday like everyone else. I wasn’t aware of the cupboard but I don’t think the teachers can control the kids there.
‘The idea that they are putting children in a tiny box room as a punishment is shocking. It is very wrong to put a child in there.
‘I have three children, twins aged six and a seven year old, and it is frightening to think they could be treated like that.’
Neil Hodgkins, headteacher at Devonshire Primary School, and Sandra Hall, headteacher at St John’s Primary School, have now been drafted in to run the school.
On its website the school says: ‘Revoe is a school where every child really does matter. We aim to provide a safe and healthy environment which enables our children to be successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens.’
28,000 Romanians are held for crimes in UK over 5 years… and there are only 68,000 of them living in UK!
The “Romanians” concerned are of course Gypsies
Romanians come second on the list of foreign nationals arrested by police for serious crimes, police have revealed.
Nearly 28,000 have been held for serious offences in London over the past five years, including violence and sex crimes.
That is the equivalent of 15 Romanians being held by the police every day. There are only estimated to be 68,000 living in the UK.
It puts Romania second only to Poland in the list of countries with the most citizens arrested in London – but there are around half a million Poles in Britain.
The figures have caused concern ahead of the dropping of border controls next year. From January, Romania’s 21million inhabitants, along with seven million Bulgarians, will obtain free access to Britain.
Both countries have been members of the EU since 2007 but from January 1 their citizens will have full rights to live and work in the UK.
Critics of mass immigration have warned it could mean 50,000 arrivals every year for the first five years – the equivalent of a city the size of Newcastle upon Tyne. Research suggests they would be eight times better off working in a minimum wage job here compared with staying at home.
Sir Andrew Green, of Migration Watch UK, said: ‘It is a matter of real concern that there should be such a substantial degree of criminality among those Romanians who have already come to Britain despite the treaty limitations on their right to work.’
But Romania’s prime minister, Victor Ponta, has said his compatriots ‘will not rush’ to Britain next year. The figures on criminality among foreigners were released by Scotland Yard under the Freedom of Information Act.
Since 2008, 27,725 Romanian citizens have been held for serious offences in London. That includes ten for murder, 142 for rape and 666 for other sex offences.
In the last five years, 34,905 Poles have been detained by the force, including 84 for murder. Lithuanians were the third most frequently arrested foreign nationals in the capital, with 18,594 being held.
A spokesman for the Romanian Embassy said only 624 Romanians were in prison in the UK. He added that the Met figures are for ‘suspects’ and that in many cases arrests will not lead to convictions.
Last April a family of Romanian pickpockets who stole to build ‘palaces’ in their homeland were jailed.
The Rostas family preyed on train passengers as they slept on late-night trains going out of London, stealing hundreds of mobile phones and cash. They also targeted tourists in the West End of London.
The family were living on benefits in Britain and pocketed hundreds of thousands of pounds by stealing from at least 185 victims over two years before selling on the phones in Romania for huge profits.
They built five mansions in Romania and also spent the proceeds of their crimes on designer clothing, gold jewellery and luxury cars.
Brothers Romulous Rostas, 18, and Marin Rostas, 25, their cousins Cornell Rostas, 22, and Govinder Rostas, 17, and another family member, Robert Rostas, 23, admitted conspiracy to steal.
The adults received jail sentences ranging from three years and three months to 18 months, while Govinder Rostas was given a 12-month detention and training order.
Judge Peter Clarke, QC, expressed his shock at their ‘deep-rooted criminality’.
Scrap ‘dangerous and unnecessary’ secret justice bill, hundreds of lawyers and QCs urge the British Government
Hundreds of lawyers, including some of the country’s most eminent QCs, today launch a devastating attack on Government plans for secret courts as ‘contrary to the rule of law’ and demand they are dropped.
More than 700 figures from the legal profession insist that the Government’s Justice and Security Bill is ‘dangerous and unnecessary’ and will ‘fatally undermine’ the fairness of court hearings.
The group of 702, which includes 38 QCs, says in a letter published in today’s Daily Mail that the proposals to allow a huge extension of court hearings behind closed doors will ‘erode core principles of our civil justice system’ by undermining the right to a fair trial and open justice.
They include Nicholas Vineall QC, former chairman of the Conservative Lawyers’ Association, Reverend Nicholas Mercer, a lieutenant colonel who was the Army’s most senior lawyer during the Iraq war, and Ian Macdonald QC, who resigned as a security-cleared special advocate in protest at the existing use of secret justice.
The intervention of such a significant number of lawyers is a shattering blow for the Government, which had been hoping to get the legislation through Parliament as quietly as possible following months of controversy. It is expected to return to the Commons next week.
In another setback for the Government, a group of international organisations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and similar bodies from Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Egypt and Hungary, also expressed concerns about the Bill in a joint statement.
It warned: ‘If the UK Parliament passes this proposal into law it will be a huge setback for those of us fighting to secure truth and fairness from our own governments and within our own justice systems across the world.’
The Daily Mail has led criticism of Government plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs), in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in civil hearings.
Defendants or claimants will not allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.
Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts in cases deemed to involve national security.
The legislation has been drafted in close cooperation with the security services, who have claimed other countries may stop sharing intelligence with Britain if it risks being disclosed in open court.
But critics say the proposals are simply designed to ensure potentially embarrassing cases are conducted behind closed doors.
Reverend Nicholas Mercer, one of the most prominent signatories of today’s letter, said: ‘The Justice and Security Bill has one principle aim and that is to cover up UK complicity in rendition and torture.
‘The Bill is an affront to the open justice on which this country rightly prides itself and, above all, it is an affront to human dignity. The fact that some of those individuals who are complicit in rendition and torture can not only assist in the drafting of the Bill but also vote to cover their tracks is a constitutional scandal.
‘It is little wonder that the Bill has been heavily criticised by the UN Rapporteur on Torture and condemned by the vast majority of lawyers and human rights organisations in this country.’
Michael Fordham QC, one of the country’s leading public law specialists, warned the Government that if it pressed ahead judges might refuse to preside over secret courts.
‘Secret trials undermine the principles of open justice and natural justice on which the rule of law is built. By promoting the spread of secrecy, state authorities become self-immunised from proper public scrutiny, and in relation to the very types of actions which most need it,’ he said.
no to secret justice
‘Parliament is unwisely provoking the untapped power of our unwritten constitution which it could come to regret. The last word will not be Parliament’s, but that of judges asked to preside over secret courts. An unwise Parliament may be about to find that it has constitutional limits, when the rule of law fights back.’
Paul Bowen QC said: ‘The extension of closed material procedures is not necessary for public protection. The state is already free to withhold evidence from disclosure under Public Interest Immunity procedures. What is not fair, or just, is evidence being shown in secret to the judge who decides the case on the basis of that evidence.
‘In those cases where disclosure of torture or other human rights abuses by the British government or its agents is sought, the public interest surely requires that to be brought into the open.’
Dinah Rose QC, a former special advocate and another signatory, said: ‘Closed material procedures are alien to British justice and will distort civil trials beyond recognition.
‘What may look and sound like a trial is in fact nothing of the sort. Judges will be asked to decide cases on the basis of “secret evidence” that would not withstand legal challenge and hand down judgments in secret. This Bill is a dangerous perversion of our national legal system and will undermine constitutional rights.’
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: ‘When will the coalition that once championed civil liberties listen to the condemnation of its secret courts proposals?
‘Liberty was dismissed as the reactionary human rights lobby- but now legal and international communities have joined the opposition to secret stitch-ups between government and judges, with victims, press and public shut outside. Secret justice is a complete perversion – it is no justice at all.’
key evidence on spy will be censored
Minister without portfolio Kenneth Clarke, who is in charge of the legislation, will today table further amendments supposed to address some of the concerns of critics.
They mean a judge must be satisfied that the Government has considered whether to make a claim for public interest immunity before making an application for a secret hearing as one of the tests to be met. Mr Clarke is also proposing an annual report on the operation of closed hearings and a full review after five years.
He said: ‘With these final amendments the Government has gone to extreme lengths to meet every practical legal objection that has been made about the Bill. The judge now has total discretion over whether to order a closed material procedure following an application either by the Government, the claimant, or from the court of its own motion.
‘I do not believe closed material procedures are ideal, but in the very exceptional circumstances where national security is at stake, they offer the only practical means of delivering justice where otherwise there would be none.
‘CMPs already exist in our justice system and the Government does lose in them – sometimes to the great anger of the Daily Mail’s readers.
‘This Bill is now proportionate, sensible and necessary. It resolves the highly unsatisfactory legal no-man’s land we have at the moment where national security cases can be brought, but not resolved.
‘Of course these amendments will not reassure the Bill’s hardline critics, who prefer silence to judicial decisions on allegations of kidnap and torture, and are prepared to accept that millions of pounds could go without challenge to individuals who could be terrorists.
These final amendments should now resolve all right thinking citizens that this is a sensible, worthwhile Bill which they would give their support to.
‘There are few Governments in the world who would go to these lengths to ensure that we will uphold justice and the rule of law in the process of securely safeguarding the safety of our citizens and the national interest.’
British college lecturer confronts teenage bullies who punched her nine-year-old son… and SHE’S dragged to court for breaching the peace
A college lecturer landed in court after standing up to bullies who attacked her young son in the street.
Shannon Sibley, 48, was charged with a breach of the peace after her nine-year-old son was punched and had abuse hurled at him by a group of teenagers.
Miss Sibley, from Carfin, Lanarkshire, took her car out to find those responsible and confront them after her son had been reduced to tears.
The mother-of-two caught up with her son’s tormentors, who had been selling sweets in her housing estate, and after a heated exchange returned home.
But she was reported to the police after a witness saw the incident on May 20 last year.
Miss Sibley, a senior lecturer in travel and tourism at Anniesland College in Glasgow, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court where she pleaded guilty to the offence.
But Sheriff David Bicket gave her an absolute discharge and told her he ‘understood’ the reasons for her actions after hearing the case.
Today, Tory politician Margaret Mitchell MSP blasted prosecutors for allowing the case to reach court.
She said: ‘I think the sheriff has looked at all the mitigating factors and decided that there wasn’t a reason to punish this woman despite the position taken by prosecutors that a crime had taken place.
‘I can’t help but sympathise with her and feel that the sheriff certainly came to the right decision by dealing with the case with an absolute discharge.’
Depute fiscal Fiona Kirkby told the court how the incident had unfolded.
She said: ‘The accused’s son, aged nine, was involved in an incident with the complainer, a young male aged 13.
‘He came home and was very upset. The complainer and a group of friends had been selling sweets round houses in the area.
‘After her son returned home, the accused then got into her car and arrived at the locus and confronted the complainer.
‘She asked him why he assaulted her son and shouted ‘How would you like to be bullied’ and similar utterances.
‘The accused was extremely angry. A female witness who had been buying sweets from the complainer split the confrontation up.
‘The witness then tried to note Miss Sibley’s registration down as she drove away at which point she opened the car window and shouted her address to the woman.
‘The witness then attended to the boy who was shaken by the incident and it was reported to police.’
Defence lawyer Heather McCracken said: ‘Miss Sibley’s son was playing in the street outside their home with a friend.
‘The complainer and a number of his friends made certain taunts and offensive remarks to the nine-year-old child who was wearing a green top.
‘Miss Sibley’s son was then hit and he returned home. The group who were involved in the altercation were not from the area and were selling tablets and sweets round the doors of the estate.
‘She took her son in the car to find the boys who were responsible for the assault. When she confronted the boy, she was told to f*** off.
‘She then felt threatened by a forward movement by the complainer and made a pushing away gesture.
‘Miss Sibley is a college lecturer and holds a high up position in the education authority and has assisted children affected by poverty.
‘To say this episode has had a profound effect on Miss Sibley is an understatement.’
Miss Sibley said: ‘This has cost me thousands of pounds and caused great upset. I don’t want to talk about it.’
Sheriff David Bicket said: ‘I am satisfied that this was a one off incident and although I do not condone it I understand the explanation behind the offence. I am discharging you absolutely.’