Former student claims teacher repeatedly hit him across back with a trainer, court hears

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A former pupil at a Suffolk school where children were allegedly subjected to a “regime of abusive behaviour” by four members of staff has described collapsing on the ground after being punched in the face.

The former pupil told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that he and some friends had been drinking alcohol in a dormitory at Oakwood School in Stowmarket and had pretended to be asleep when senior master Stephen Player came into the room.

He claimed that Player had shouted at him to get up and had then taken off one of his training shoes and repeatedly hit his lower back and bottom with it.

He had then been “forcibly removed” from his bed and taken to an assembly hall where Player had then allegedly repeatedly slapped him round the face and prodded him in the chest.

He alleged that Player had then “launched” his fist between his eyes causing two black eyes and resulting in him collapsing to the ground.

The former pupil claimed that on another occasion while he was playing in a football match he had been dragged off the pitch by Player by his hair after he did a sliding tackle on an opponent.

He alleged that Player had then kicked and punched him for about five minutes while shouting at him.

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The witness also claimed that former deputy head Gerald West had hit him on the head with a plastic cup causing a cut which bled when he wouldn’t stop talking.

West, who is known by his middle name Roger, 70, of Martins Meadow, Gislingham, has denied ten charges of cruelty to a person under the age of 16. Player, 59, of London, has denied six offences of child cruelty.

Also before the court are Graham Hallett, 66, of Lancaster, a senior master at Oakwood, who has denied one charge of child cruelty and Michael Watts, 59, of Southampton, a child care officer at Oakwood, who has denied seven offences of child cruelty.

The offences are alleged to have been committed between 1974 and 1999 and relate to 20 victims.

It had been alleged pupils, who were sent to the school because they had educational and behavioural problems, were repeatedly subjected to physical ill treatment including slaps to the face, punches and kicks, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

“The violence meted out to them was all too prevalent a feature of life at Oakwood school where a regime of abusive behaviour existed,” alleged Jacqueline Carey, prosecuting.

Oakwood School opened in 1974 and shut in 2000.

The trial continues today.