Violent assault on teenager at Catholic college

A Wellington teen ended up in hospital with a suspected broken neck after an assault where he was punched unconscious and flung down an embankment by a classmate.

Police are investigating the circumstances of the daylight attack on Joseph Nawl, 15, a student at Porirua’s Bishop Viard College, on Wednesday. Doctors at Wellington Hospital initially feared he could be paralysed.

They suspect he has a broken neck, but it remains too swollen for them to see clearly on X-rays.

His family, originally from Myanmar, do not want him or any of their other children to return to the school, where they say they have suffered racist bullying and no longer feel safe.

Bishop Viard principal Teresa Cargo said the “unfortunate incident” was an assault, not bullying. The two boys involved had been good friends and team-mates, and both families were distressed by what had happened.

The school had a “zero-tolerance policy” towards bullying, but at no time had Joseph or his family made any suggestion of “bullying or racial overtones”.

Police said they had begun an investigation because of the severity of the latest attack. They had seen CCTV footage of the incident, and any charges could depend on the hospital’s assessment of Joseph’s injuries.

Ms Cargo said: “We are following set procedures and are still investigating. We do not condone violence and this was a random act completely out of character for the student involved.

“We have a growing number of refugee families in our community who have chosen to send their children to Bishop Viard College, and we are recognised in the wider Wellington region as a school which acknowledges and supports this cultural diversity.”


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