Teacher who fired airgun to ward off gang of yobs loses her job

A TEACHER jailed for firing an air pistol at "yobs" outside her home was last night sacked by her education authority.

Linda Walker, 48, a teacher with 25 years’ service, was dismissed from her 30,000-a-year job after a five-hour disciplinary hearing with senior education officials.

The mother of two, who has received widespread support for her stance against vandals, emerged from the meeting with her career in tatters but vowed to fight her dismissal with an appeal.

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Walker, who taught children with behavioural problems at New Park High School in Eccles, Salford, was jailed in March for firing an air pistol at the pavement during a stand-off with youngsters outside her house in Urmston, Manchester. She had been suspended from teaching since August last year.

Walker attended yesterday’s hearing, which was held in private, with officials from Salford’s education department, accompanied by Cliff Anderson, a regional co-ordinator for her union, the NASUWT.

After the hearing, Mr Anderson said: "It is with regret that we announce Mrs Walker has been dismissed from her post.

"With the support of the NASUWT, she intends to appeal. In the interests of ensuring that appeal is not prejudiced, Mrs Walker and the NASUWT will not be making any further comment at this stage."

It is understood the council argued that by having a criminal conviction, Walker had de facto committed gross misconduct and was unfit to be a teacher.

Jill Faker, the director of education for Salford city council, said: "Disciplinary hearings are confidential matters between the appropriate authority and the individual concerned. As a result, we will not be commenting on the case or giving out any specific information about it.

"As with other disciplinary matters, this case has been progressed in accordance with formal city council procedures."

Walker was found guilty of affray and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear at Manchester Crown Court in March.

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She was given a six-month jail sentence but was freed on 4 May after spending 36 days in Styal Women’s Prison in Cheshire.

Appeal judges quashed her sentence, but they ruled her criminal record should stand, and refused her right to appeal against her conviction.

The trial heard Walker fired the pellet gun after her family had been plagued by "yobs" targeting her children and home.

She had received nuisance phone calls, her garden shed had been broken into, and her car and garden vandalised, the court heard.

Walker’s case gained much public sympathy, with 10,000 people signing a petition calling for her release from jail.

Her sentence sparked a political row over crime and "yob culture" during the general election campaign. Walker later said she felt crucified by what had happened to her.

Greater Manchester police confirmed they had received hate mail from people angry that they had arrested Walker in the first place.

But the police said Walker had gone too far in using an air pistol to confront the youngsters.

Walker left the hearing without comment and has seven days to lodge an appeal against the council’s decision.

The appeal will be heard by the school’s board of governors.