Former Northamptonshire teacher involved in ‘regime of abusive behaviour’ at school court told


A Northamptonshire man punched and kicked a pupil at a boarding school when he worked there as a senior teacher, it has been alleged.

Stephen Player, 59, of Manor Road, Spratton, is one of four former teachers at the now-closed Oakwood School in Stowmarket, Suffolk who have denied child cruelty charges.

The men are on trial at Ipswich Crown Court where the prosecution alleges that they were involved in a “regime of abusive behaviour” between 1974 and 1999.

Giving evidence, a former pupil told the jury that he and friends had been drinking alcohol in a dormitory when Player entered the room.

The man said he tried to pretend to be asleep but claimed that Player had ordered him to get up and then beaten him on the lower back and bottom with a training shoe.

Player had “forcibly removed” him from the dormitory and took him to an assembly hall where he was slapped around the face, claimed the man.

He alleged that Player had repeatedly prodded him in the chest before punching him between the eyes. The man said he sustained two black eyes and fell to the floor.

On another occasion, during a football match, it was alleged that Player had pulled the pupil from the pitch by his hair after carrying out a sliding tackle.

The man said that Player had shouted at him for five minutes while punching and kicking him.

Player has pleaded not guilty to six offences of child cruelty.

The other former teachers on trial are Michael Watts, 59, of Sellwood Road, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Graham Hallett, 66, of Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster and Gerald West, 71, of Martins Road, Gislingham, Suffolk who between them have denied 18 similar offences.

Oakwood School, which closed in 2000, catered for boys aged between eight and 16 with educational and behavioural problems.

Player was headteacher at Spratton Hall Primary School until he retired in 2013. None of the allegations relate to his time at the independent Northamptonshire school.

The trial continues.