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Ex-pupil tells jury he was “launched” down South Cumbria boarding school stairs

Carlisle Crown Court

[A] FORMER South Cumbria boarding school student was “launched” down a set of stairs by the headmaster and owner, a court has heard.

The claim was made to jurors during the trial of four men who deny alleged historic physical assaults on students at Underley Hall School, near Kirkby Lonsdale. These are said to have occurred during the 1970s and 1980s.

One ex-pupil told Carlisle Crown Court of an alleged assault involving then headmaster Errol Mayer and the former owner Derrick Cooper. Cooper denies six assault charges and two child cruelty allegations, while Mayer has been deemed unfit to stand trial.

The witness admitted in evidence he had spray-painted an anagram of his initials in an off-limits area of the school. The next day he said he encountered Mr Mayer and Cooper.

“They asked me if I knew about graffiti,” he said. “Mr Mayer took my legs and Mr Cooper had me from behind and they started trying to carry me off to the office.

“We came to the stairs, at the top. I was resisting. I was kicking. I was a big heavy lad as well.”

The two men exchanged a look which the ex-pupil thought meant “enough’s enough”.

When asked what happened next, he said: “I have been launched down the stairs. I remember the feeling of panic, and then not hitting the ground when I thought I should have.”

He added: “I landed on my back. I was winded and couldn’t move.”

When it was suggested under cross-examination by Peter Wright QC, for Cooper, that the incident didn’t happen, the witness replied: “It is the truth, everything.

“Everything I can remember is the truth.”

The trial continues.

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