Northern Ireland news

Praise for staff who protected students when they were targeted by past pupil armed with a knife at Craigavon school

A former student was arrested outside Lismore Comprehensive School. Picture by Google Maps
Marie Louise McConville

THE principal of a Co Armagh secondary school has told how one of her teachers bravely stood with his arms raised in the air between pupils and a teenager armed with a large knife, who threatened one of his students.

Fiona Kane, principal of Lismore Comprehensive School in Craigavon, praised the teacher whom she said went into "autopilot" when the teenager, who is said to be a past pupil, confronted students as they walked to PE lessons yesterday.

Mrs Kane said the group of boys, aged 14-15, and two male teachers, positioned at the front of the line of students and at the back, had just left the school premises to walk towards an underpass to go to a nearby recreation centre, when the teen was seen standing to the side of the road "brandishing a big knife".

"He threatened one of the students, shouting out," she said.

"The teacher intervened and he was quite verbally abused. He put his hands up. In the meantime, they started turning the group around. All came back in immediately and let me know".

Mrs Kane said she called police who "swiftly" began a search for the armed teenager.

Fiona Kane, principal of Lismore Comprehensive School in Craigavon, has praised staff who she said went on "autopilot" when an armed 14-year-old past pupil confronted students as they walked to PE lessons

Aided by the police helicopter, PSNI officers arrested a 14-year-old off the school premises, who was not in possession of a knife.

Mrs Kane said three students who were arriving late to school were followed by police as they were "worried" they "could have been targeted" by the armed teen.

The principal said there was a "follow-up investigation" and the armed police "satisfied themselves" that the students "weren't involved or carrying the knife".

Mrs Kane said senior staff then conducted a search of the school, including in bins and in the toilets, to make sure the knife was not on the premises.

"We were assisting them (the PSNI)," she said.

"They were happy to work in partnership".

Mrs Kane said: "We work very hard. I am a member of the Safeguarding team and the Critical Incident team. We meet probably more than other schools.

"We just basically went into autopilot and it worked very, very well. We were able to use social media to update parents. We take our duty of care very, very seriously.. They just go above and beyond. Our parents are so appreciative for keeping them safe".

Following the incident, Mrs Kane said staff debriefed every year group and said counselling had been offered to students.

"The Education Authority also phoned me to commend us on the communication and how well we had responded".

A PSNI spokesman said: "A 14 year-old-male has been arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon following an incident at the Brownlow Road area of Craigavon.

"He is currently in police custody assisting with enquiries".

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