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What DOES it take to get jailed Father who abused and punched a headmistress only has to pay 100 as thief with 9,000 victims walks free
Paul Stratford punched and
forcefully shoved Zita McCormick in front of shocked staff after a
showdown over his son's behaviourHis son had allegedly sworn in front of a group of Spanish visitors and racially abused a Somali boyStratford was today spared jail and handed a nine-month community order and ordered to pay 500 Education campaigners slammed the sentence and said law and order had been allowed to 'go out the window'
07:45 GMT, 21 December 2012
A thug who launched a violent assault on a headmistress when she told off his son for racial abuse walked free from court yesterday.
Paul Stratford punched and swore at Zita McCormick after she told him his eight-year-old son Brendan would be excluded for a day.
Flanked by colleagues, the teacher told the 31-year-old to calm down. Instead he made for her, punching her and pushing her backward.
Aggression: Paul Stratford, left, punched and forcefully shoved Zita McCormick, right, in front of shocked staff after a showdown over his eight-year-old son Brendan's behaviour
Despite the gravity of the offence,
magistrates decided to impose only a community sentence, telling
Stratford to pay his victim 100. In another astonishing case yesterday,
a Romanian thief who ran a 3million cashpoint scam with 9,000 victims
also escaped jail.
Leonid Rotaru was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence.
Last night, an education expert said
law and order seemed to have ‘gone out of the window’. Another said
Stratford, who already had a conviction for violence, should have been
jailed to deter others from attacking teachers.
The incident took place in June after
Brendan was accused of a racial outburst against a Somali boy at Seven
Fields Primary in Swindon.
He also swore at pupils and staff, in
what Mrs McCormick said was his third act of bad behaviour that week at
the 222-pupil school.
After calling the boy’s mother to ask
for him to be picked up at 9.30am, his father arrived and launched his
attack in the foyer.
A court heard he demanded of Mrs McCormick: ‘Why have you called my son a f****** thug’
After being asked to calm down, he
repeated: ‘You called my son a f****** thug’ and ordered the teacher not
to wave her finger at his boy. He then launched the attack that was
ended only by the intervention of the caretaker.
Mrs McCormick said before the
sentencing: ‘It was very frightening but you work on adrenalin.I could
not let this man get into the school.’
She revealed she has even asked
parents to take anger management classes: ‘They can’t control the anger
they have. The school is where they vent anger at public servants who
are there to protect and educate their children.’
Prosecuted: Stratford claimed he was 'protecting' his son, who was left in tears after Mrs McCormick excluded him from Seven Fields Primary School in Swindon, pictured
Stratford, who was found guilty of
common assault, was given a nine-month community order by Swindon
magistrates. Chairman of the bench David Sinclair told him to pay 400
in costs and 100 in compensation to his victim.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of
the National Association of Head Teachers, said Stratford’s behaviour
was totally unacceptable.
‘Sometimes heads need to make tough
decisions and they need to have society’s full support to make such
decisions for the sake of all their pupils,’ he added. ‘These types of
attacks against public servants doing their jobs should be punished very
Chris McGovern, a former headmaster
who chairs the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘This assault happened
in a school and that should make the offence more serious. If schools
aren’t safe then there is no hope.
‘The children first witnessed the
alleged bullying by this boy, then his father supporting him and then
the father hitting the headteacher. It is simply unacceptable.
‘This should have been an exemplary
sentence to ensure that people are put off doing things like this. A
custodial sentence should have been seriously considered.
‘Often you feel that someone who has
committed a crime has not been punished as much as they should have
been. It looks as though law and order has gone out of the window.’
Stratford, who wore a black T-shirt in
the dock yesterday, claimed he was ‘protecting’ his son, who was in
tears after Mrs McCormick excluded him for a day. ‘She was
uncontrollable, she was close to his eye,’ he claimed.
‘I was worried about her pointing him
in the eye and blinding him. And that’s when I thought I needed to do
something to protect my kid.’
Details of Stratford’s son’s allegedly
racist remarks were not revealed to the court, but at a previous
hearing Mrs McCormick, who said she had not been injured in the assault,
described the violent aftermath.
She said: ‘Mr Stratford made two huge
steps and actually punched and pushed me and said “Don’t tell my son
off”. The punch came first and then it was a push. It was almost like a
fist and a hand and I came backwards. I said “Don’t hit the
headteacher”. It’s quite shocking and it’s very frightening.’ Pauline
Lambert, prosecuting, said Stratford had not met the headmistress prior
to the attack. After throwing the punch he continued to rant until he
left the building, she said.
A recent survey by the NAHT revealed as many as one in ten head teachers has been physically assaulted by a parent or carer.
The 1,362 heads surveyed in England,
Wales and Northern Ireland reported being punched, spat on, kicked, head
butted, bitten and sexually assaulted.
Twice as many reported being
victimised on social networking websites. One described a ‘serious
kicking attack’ that left its victim ‘badly bruised’ and with
‘difficulty walking for a couple of days’.
In one case a head said a parent had tried to run them over in the car park. Another had a table thrown at them.
And one description read: ‘Punched in the face, bitten, kicked, spat at, hand down T-shirt to grab breasts, hair pulled.’
Free, the fraudster who stole 9,000 bank PINs on behalf of organised gang
/12/20/article-2251202-16991066000005DC-241_634x549.jpg” width=”634″ height=”549″ alt=”Scam: Leonid Rotaru, front right was involved in a sophisticated bank card fraud thought to be worth in excess of 3 million and with 9,000 potential victims. He is pictured walking free from court today” class=”blkBorder” />
Scam: Leonid Rotaru, front right was involved in a sophisticated bank card fraud thought to be worth in excess of 3 million and with 9,000 potential victims. He is pictured walking free from court
When they raided his home they found details of 9,000 bank cards, including personal identification numbers (PINs) – on his computer which could have bagged him up to 3.25m.
But he escaped a jail term when he admitted four charges of fraud and possessing various illegal devices at Taunton Crown Court.
Sentencing him to a suspended 18-month jail term, Judge Graham Hume Jones said: ‘This is a sophisticated scam by which a number of people could have been victims.
‘Even if they had been repaid by the banks, the banks themselves would have been the victims, and ultimately the banks’ customers.’
Criminals use a wide range of tricks
to steal private banking details, including increasingly sophisticated
skimming machines. Last year more than 36m was stolen.
In July 2008, Romanian fraudster Adu
Bunu was jailed for five years after he was convicted of cloning more
than 2,000 cards, which allowed him to steal up to 1.1million.
In October 2011, another Romanian,
Ion Matei, 34, was jailed for a year after using mousetrap paper to line
ATMs [automated teller machines] so that when customers tried to
withdraw their cash, the notes stuck to the paper and did not emerge
from the slot.
Fraud: Leonid Rotaru is pictured returning to remove his skimmer from a cash machine in Somerset
Criminal: The 32-year-old helped to fit 'skimming' devices on cash dispensers, which downloaded the card details of those who used them
In the latest case to come before the
courts, Rotaru – who has lived legally in Britain for three years –
used a sophisticated card-reader, sometimes known as a ‘skimmer’. It
fitted over the slot where customers enter their cards and automatically
recorded information on the magnetic card strip.
At the same time a hidden pinhole
camera would record the victim entering their PIN on the keypad. The
crook could then use the information to make duplicate cards.
Free: Mr Rotaru was given an 18-month jail term, suspended for two years
The father-of-two was caught out after a customer at a Tesco store in Minehead, Somerset, called police after becoming suspicious. Officers looked at CCTV and saw Rotaru fitting the device and he was arrested as one of them recognised him when, by chance, he returned to collect it.
They raided his home in Bridgwater and discovered he had built up a massive hoard of private banking information. They also found evidence Rotaru emailed the details to other members of the gang so they could ‘cash in’.
When interviewed, he told police he was ‘at the bottom end’ of the operation, and that the ‘big boys operated out of London’. He refused to identify them.
The court heard Rotaru skipped bail while under investigation for another fraud in Axminster, Devon, in 2011.
He was eventually convicted by a jury after his DNA was discovered inside the inner components of the tiny device.
Speaking outside court, Barry
Douglas, of Avon and Somerset Police, said Rotaru was part of a well
organised gang. He added: ‘Banks say the average fraud per card is
Detective Chief Inspector Paul
Barnard, who leads the police’s cheque and plastic crime unit, told the
Mail in March that 92 per cent of all ATM fraud in Britain is committed
by Romanian nationals.
Officers warned there were an estimated 1,000 Romanian cashpoint gangs in Britain, raking in an estimated 30m a year.
Sophisticated: This is a police picture showing two views of a card skimming device used by Mr Rotaru