The 50-year-old man, of Worsbrough, who cannot be named for legal reasons, walked out of his original trial at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court in March and was found guilty in his absence in relation to his conduct between February 2016 and April 2017.
The man, who lost his wife to suicide weeks after their daughter’s birth, claimed the school and its head who also cannot be named had failed to tell him about the youngster’s suicidal remark in which she said she ‘wanted to be with her mummy’.
Judge Robert Moore was told by Robert Sandford, defending, that his client was left in the dark for about four weeks before he found out about the comment.
The headteacher, who gave evidence in court, said she was ‘disappointed’ social services did not inform the parent about the incident as she was not allowed to do so.
“To say he was devastated is an understatement,” Mr Sandford added. “This is a case fraught with emotion, especially so considering the girl’s mother, (his) wife, took her own life due to postnatal depression ten weeks after giving birth.”
Social services got involved in the case, the court was told, and issued care proceedings against the father having allegedly blamed him for his daughter’s remark, he told the court.
It was the social services’ handling of the case his client was upset with, Mr Sandford said, but his patience with the school ‘ran out’ when he believed they were conducting one-on-one sessions to gather information without his consent.
“There are three matters to this case,” Mr Sandford said. “Firstly, the school had consent for (my client’s) daughter to be involved in group play sessions, but not for any one-on-one intervention which is what happened on multiple occasions.
“Secondly, he was not told about the suicide threat, which happened on February 25, 2016, until the end of March and finally he did not agree with staff members’ conduct when they were engaged in these play sessions. His concern is that members of staff were using these sessions to obtain information about his family.”
The dad who broke down in tears in court admitted to publishing and circulating two leaflets, which contained details of his daughter’s treatment and that the school’s headteacher had failed to inform him about her threat.
“This triggered the school barring him from entering its grounds, notwithstanding the fact that the school was where his daughter went at the time,” Mr Sandford said.
Police were called seven times following the ban being implemented, the court was told, but no arrests were made while social services eventually dropped their case against him.
Judge Moore said: “You had effectively won as the social services no matter how draconian they had acted dropped their case against you.
“Why not just move on and get back to leading your normal life? You continued to visit the school, despite knowing full well about the ban, and clearly caused the headteacher a great deal of stress.
“The root of this case is the mother’s suicide and the emotion of that was encapsulated in the appellant’s evidence, but this was a witch-hunt targeted at anyone he thought had wronged him.
“Although I fully understand the appellant’s view, he went about this completely the wrong way and barked up the wrong tree. This material should have gone to the press, not circulated and left on parents’ cars’ windscreens.
“It’s almost an act of revenge and I have no choice but to dismiss the appeal and leave the sentence unchanged.”
The original 12-month community order sentence was upheld at crown court, but he was also ordered to pay costs of £2,480.