A PE teacher who smacked a four-year-old pupil twice on the legs after he threw a tantrum during football practise has been found guilty of assault.
Ian Webber, 54, will likely face the sack after he struck the unruly child at an after-school sports club after carrying him across a sports hall by the shoulders on 23 May last year.
The court heard how he warned the boy ‘if you kick me again, I’ll smack you’ before carrying out the attack at a school based in the West Midlands.
Webber denied assaulting the boy by beating and went on trial at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
The experienced teacher of 16 years claimed he never smacked the boy and that a slapping sound heard by witnesses may have been him giving the boy a ‘high five.’
But District Judge David Robinson found Webber guilty of the charge after saying the evidence of the victim and three other boys was ‘clear and plausible’.
Judge Robinson decided to only hand the teacher a conditional discharge because the incident will already have a ‘huge impact’ on his future.
He was ordered to pay the £850 costs as well as a £20 victim surcharge.
Judge Robinson said: ‘Mr Webber I take into account that you were dealing with a difficult situation. You were doing the right thing until you did wrong. You were the adult and he was the child.
‘You responded to being kicked and punched. This was an isolated offence in a long teaching career. You have made an outstanding contribution as a PE teacher. This is likely to have a significant impact on your future.
‘I found the evidence of the four boys clear and plausible. I believe the boys.
‘I’m sure he is guilty of the two slaps alleged and I’m sure a conditional discharge is appropriate.’
The court heard how 6ft 2ins-tall Webber told police how he had threatened the victim with violence ‘as a joke’ in response to being ‘punched and kicked’ by the child.
The coach who oversaw the after school football club said he did not see Webber hit the child and that the youngster had seemed ‘happier’ after being disciplined.
Giving evidence, he said: ‘I am a sports coach at the school. I teach football and basketball to pupils from the ages of four to nine-years-old.
‘On 23 May, I was having behavioural issues with the child. I took him out of the hall as his behaviour was unacceptable.
‘Mr Webber was walking past and he stopped to help me. At the time the child was under a table and refused to come out.
‘Mr Webber lifted the table a bit and moved it out of the way. Mr Webber said if I want to go back in to the other children then he would bring the boy back in. About 20 minutes later they both walked back into the hall.’
He added: ‘The boy started hitting and kicking Mr Webber. Mr Webber asked him to stop and told the child if you keeping hitting me, I’ll hit you back.
‘But he said it in a joking way, Mr Webber was calm when he said it.
‘I saw them move over to the stage and they were both holding hands, they were side by side. From what I saw there was no force involved.
‘They both sat down on the stage, I could see them talking to each other and it seemed Mr Webber was trying to calm him down.
‘It seemed he did, as a few minutes later they both walked over to me and the boy apologised to me. The boy seemed very happy, he was happier than at the start of the session.’
He concluded: ‘I did not see Mr Webber smack the boy.’
Alex Barbour, defending, said the information giving by the children could have been distorted in a ‘Chinese whispers’ type of way.
On Tuesday, the court heard how the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Webber smacked him ‘very hard’ on the legs because he was ‘being naughty’.
The boy’s mother told how her eldest son told her about the attack after she collected them both from football practice.