A student in Laois has been awarded €20,000 from an Irish court after being branded a "suspect thief" by his schoolmates.
Luke Hanlon was a student in St. Joseph's National School in Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois. The court heard that he stayed out of school for 10 weeks after being wrongly accused of two thefts of money from the school's staff room.
The school's principal had asked the 5th and 6th year students of the school to write down who they thought had stolen the money. Luke had been singled out and treated as though he were guilty.
Judge Karen Fergus, at Tullamore Circuit Civil Court, described Luke’s treatment by the school’s headmaster and board of management as "unbelievable" and appalling. She ruled a €20,000 settlement from the board as reasonable compensation for their having damaged the boy’s character.
Luke and his family received an apology from the school earlier in the year stating that he was a student of integrity.
Judge Fergus approved the settlement offer and said she was “appalled” at the way Luke had been treated.
Luke's mother, in an affidavit, said he was so humiliated he could not attend his classes for 10 weeks but was now doing well at secondary school.