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Headmaster guilty after 'inebriated' student falls through school roof

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The headmaster of a Catholic school in Merseyside has been found guilty of endangering his students after he led a group of "inebriated" sixth-formers onto a school roof -- which was normally "out of bounds" -- and one of them fell through a skylight.

The incident occurred during an A-level results party at Sacred Heart Catholic College in Crosby in 2008. Eighteen-year-old student Joel Murray fractured his skull, perforated an eardrum, broke his ribs, and suffered permanent damage to his eye as a result of the fall. Appearing at Liverpool Crown Court, however, headmaster John Summerfield, 65, denied breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to take reasonable care for the boy's safety.

Prosecutor Kevin Donnelly acknowledged the party was a "restrained affair" and said students drank no more than one or two bottles of beer or glasses of wine. "Nobody was drunk but it is possible they were slightly affected by drink, possibly slightly inebriated," he said.

Mr Summerfield also appears to have told the group of 10 to 12 sixth-formers to stay away from the skylight.

But Mr Donnelly said the roof was "normally out of bounds" and "the very act of taking the students to that area was a breach of [Mr Summerfield's] duty of care".

"He failed to give appropriate consideration to the risks involved," added Mr Donnelly.


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