Abbey Grammar apologises to bullying victim

June 23, 2014

The Abbey Grammar CBS in Newry has apologised to former pupil Ryan Collins for a delay in acting on bullying suffered by Mr Collins during his early years at the school. The apology came after the school lost a ground-breaking civil lawsuit brought by Mr Collins for failure to act against perceived bullying which he said had caused lasting psychological damage.

Last week at Newry Courthouse, Judge Brian Walker awarded the former Abbey schoolboy £10,000 against the school trustees ruling that if the grammar school had acted quicker, some of the bullying could have been avoided.

Ryan Collins, now a 19 year old student at Queen’s University Belfast sued the school for psychiatric damage he said had resulted from unresolved bullying at the Abbey Grammar. He claimed the school had been negligent in not protecting him from the bullying and outlined how he had developed an adult phobic disorder upon meeting his former school bully at University, forcing him to give up his University accommodation and return home to Newry.

In his summing up, Judge Walker said it was clear that Mr Collins had suffered a lot of abuse and that, although he found the Abbey Grammar to be “excellent” and its actions “adequate to eliminate the foreseeable risk of injury” he accepted the school had not acted quickly enough and therefore Ryan Collins was subjected to bullying which may have been prevented.

He said he also accepted the evidence given by a bullying expert during the case that “effective actions should have been taken earlier” and that Mr Collins had suffered psychiatric damage as a result of the bullying.

During the school’s apology to Mr Collins, it admitted that Ryan’s experience fell short of what the school would have wanted for him and that it is reviewing its pastoral care provision.