'Gentle giant' fined $500 for getting tough with school bully

Daryl Michael Falcon - a sporting strongman who is described as a gentle giant - was yesterday fined $500 for assaulting the 11-year-old boy who was bullying his daughter at school.

"You set an incredibly bad example to that bully," Christchurch District Court Judge Jane McMeeken told him when he pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting a child.

He had been remanded to yesterday so that the diversion scheme for first offenders could be considered, but the parents of the boy who was assaulted objected to the scheme being used.

Falcon, a loader with no previous convictions, acted under stress and when nothing seemed to be happening about his bullying complaint at Mairehau Primary School, the court heard.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Berryman said the incident happened as children were arriving at school on March 30.

Falcon, 34, had just dropped his daughter off when she told him about a further incident of bullying - she had been slapped in the face with a book - and pointed out the boy.

Falcon approached the boy, yelled at him, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and poked him with a finger, but caused no injury.

He told him: "Stop bullying my daughter."

The boy's mother and a teacher intervened, and Falcon released the boy and left the area.

When the police contacted him, he admitted what he had done and said he had had a "brain explosion".

Defence counsel James Rapley said that at the time Falcon and his wife had been having sleepless nights with a sick baby and his father had collapsed at Arthur's Pass and been flown to hospital.

His daughter then told him of continued bullying. "She was very upset and her schoolwork was suffering," the lawyer said.

The parents had complained earlier to the school about the bullying, but no action had been taken. They met the boy by chance at the gate. "He went over to tell him off and unfortunately lost control and composure."

Mr Rapley asked Judge McMeeken to consider discharging Falcon without conviction because an assault on his record could affect his ability to travel to the United States for strongman competitions.

He was involved in sport, and seen as a gentle giant.

"He will suffer a very public punishment. He hopes he can be allowed to put this behind him and move on."

Judge McMeeken told Falcon there was never any justification to grab someone else's child and poke them.

"A lot of members of the community could well understand your frustration.

"Possibly in years gone by a charge might not have resulted.

"You grabbed the bully to give him a wake-up call.

"Anyone in court can understand how you reacted in the way that you did, given the background.

"On the other hand, it doesn't solve the problem of bullying."

- NZPA

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