Wildman fight footage deleted

ALEX ‘NOT AT RISK’: Bradd Farrell, Kadina High School deputy principal at the time of Alex Wildman’s death and the present relieving principal of the Lismore school, is pictured leaving the Ballina Courthouse yesterday.
ALEX ‘NOT AT RISK’: Bradd Farrell, Kadina High School deputy principal at the time of Alex Wildman’s death and the present relieving principal of the Lismore school, is pictured leaving the Ballina Courthouse yesterday. Doug Eaton

MOBILE phone footage of Alex Wildman cowering as he was punched repeatedly was not enough to convince Kadina High School's deputy principal to contact police, an inquest has heard.

On the seventh day of an inquest into the 14-year-old's suicide in July 2008, Kadina deputy principal Bradd Farrell said he ordered the footage of the assault deleted from a student's mobile phone to protect Alex from embarrassment.

“What I saw of the video footage didn't convince me it was something that needed to be taken to the police,” he said.

The teenager, who had been subjected to ongoing bullying and violence over the preceding months, took his own life less than two days later.

Mr Farrell told the inquest Alex's stepfather, Bill Kelly, had not wanted to involve police either.

But he said Alex was depicted on the video holding his arms above his head for protection.

“I didn't see Alex doing anything aggressive. In fact, I saw him with his hands up,” Mr Farrell said, demonstrating with his arms.

He was also aware the perpetrator, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been cautioned by police in the past - once for throwing rocks at cars from a bridge and once for stealing cigarettes.

Mr Farrell said he received a summary of Alex's school record from Ingleburn High in Sydney, including examples of violence against the child, when he enrolled him at the beginning of last year.

Alex's mother, Justine Kelly, also raised concerns about her son being bullied in the enrolment interview, he told the inquest.

But Mr Farrell said he did not think Alex was an 'at risk' child and he never spoke to the Kadina school counsellor about him.

“I alerted the year advisor that Alex's mum had raised the issue of him being bullied at a previous school,” he said.

Alex was offered counselling after the assault - his second bashing in a week - but the counsellor was not available that day and Alex died less than 24 hours later.

The inquest also heard from former Kadina High principal Stephen Lowndes, who said he only knew Alex by name.

Mr Lowndes denied ever suggesting to Mrs Kelly that her son might still be alive if the school had handled matters differently.

He said he had no recollection 'whatsoever' of that exchange at the Kelly home in Lismore soon after Alex's death.

“Mrs Kelly indicated to us how happy Alex had been in his time at Kadina,” he told the inquest.

“She didn't criticise the school or the school's actions.”

Mr Lowndes, who had been a teacher for 31 years before his retirement, said he thought all schools should have a full-time counsellor - Kadina's only works five days in every fortnight - but defended his school.

“The welfare and support mechanisms that occur are exemplary,” he said.

The inquest, before Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson, continues today at Ballina Courthouse.


Counsellor unaware of Wildman

Coroner's patience tested

Family not certain teen died alone

School 'failed to stop bullies'

'Bullies killed my son': inquest hears

Culture of schoolyard violence

Police seek video of schoolyard brawl

Bullying victim awarded $400,000

Bullying the 'hidden menace' of schools

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