A Caerphilly man has secured significant compensation after an attack by a pupil left him with life-changing injuries.

Craig Hearne, a 52-year-old design and technology teacher from Hengoed, was attacked by a pupil at Queenswood School in Ledbury, Herefordshire in January 2020.

It left him with permanent nerve damage to his face and caused ongoing psychological injuries.

The incident occurred when the 13-year-old pupil, who had a history of violent behaviour towards staff and other pupils, swung a catering lid at Mr Hearne, severely injuring his neck.

Mr Hearne was initially taken to Ledbury Accident and Emergency, but upon assessment, he was referred to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff for specialist treatment. It was confirmed that he had suffered a deep laceration of his neck, resulting in permanent nerve damage. He was unable to work for a month afterwards.

The married father-of-three turned to his trade union, the NASUWT, and national law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, to make a compensation claim. After a series of detailed discussions with Mr Hearne’s employer, Aspris Children’s Services, Thompsons secured a significant compensation settlement.

The incident left Mr Hearne suffering with sleepless nights and ongoing psychological trauma. As a result, Thompsons arranged psychological support services for Mr Hearne.

The assault also resulted in a permanent loss of sensation on the right side of his face, leaving him unable to ride a motorcycle as he struggles to put a helmet on.

Queenswood is an independent school for children and young people (aged 11-19) with social, emotional, and mental health difficulties.

Unfortunately, this horrific incident was not a rare, isolated event for the pupil in question. According to Mr Hearne, the pupil, who has since been excluded, had previously been involved in 15 incidents - 10 included violence towards staff. On one occasion in 2019, he had come into school armed with a weapon made of a wooden pole and nails sticking out of it.

Mr Hearne said: “I’m angry that my concerns about this pupil were not adequately addressed by the school. Behavioural policies that exist are not being consistently adhered to.

“The safety of staff members appears to be secondary to the money they can make from school fees. That can’t be right.

“On the day of my attack, the pupil had assaulted two other staff members, yet he was still able to go on to attack me. He had a long history of violence towards staff and pupils, but there haven’t been appropriate measures implemented to address his behavioural needs.

“I hope by taking this action, robust behavioural procedures will be implemented and strictly adhered to, so that others won’t have to endure the physical and psychological distress that I have had to experience.

“I’d like to thank my solicitor, Caragh, who was exceptional throughout this ordeal. She treated me with respect and compassion and kept me up-to-date with the latest developments concerning my case.”

Caragh Hogan, the lawyer at Thompsons Solicitors who supported him in his claim, said: ”I cannot begin to imagine what our client has been through over the past four years.

“He’s been left with life-changing physical injuries and is still dealing with the psychological trauma as a result of this attack. His employers failed to address staff concerns and implement behavioural procedures that dealt with the risk posed by the pupil.

“We hope this settlement can provide Mr Hearne with some closure, so that he can begin to move on with his life.”