The headteacher of Ian Mikardo High School in Tower Hamlets has defended the hiring of a convicted killer following uproar from the community.
Teaching assistant Ian Devlin was jailed in 2001 after he was found guilty by reason of joint enterprise for the killing of Bangladeshi father Shiblu Rahman, who was stabbed and beaten to death on his doorstep at Bromley-by-Bow, not far from where the school is located.
It has been reported that Shiblu’s pleas for mercy were met with the phrase: “Shut up, you Paki."
Ian, who was 16 at the time, was convicted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey along with one other person while a third boy, 15, was imprisoned for murder.
His nine-year sentence was reduced after a Court of Appeal ruled that there was considerable doubt as to whether Ian’s actions were racially motivated.
Following his release, he worked at a construction company that carried out some work at Ian Mikardo High School in 2010, which deals with troubled students who struggle in mainstream education.
He was hired by the special needs school in 2011 after officials carried out a “rigorous” process of safeguarding checks and risk assessments.
In a letter to parents , headteacher Claire Lillis said that Ian had been an “exemplary employee” who has worked without incident since he was hired.
She said: “Employing Ian was not a decision that was taken lightly, but it was taken in the full knowledge of the facts, and in the spirit of a school that is dedicated to giving individuals a new chance to make things right, to make something worthwhile of their lives.
“Our motto, as you know, is ‘Come with a past, leave with a future’. So many of our children have thrived in the spirit of that motto. And Ian Devlin has thrived too.
“He has been an exemplary employee, a positive role model for young people, showing that it is possible to make a worthwhile and fulfilling future after such a difficult past.”
After the news of Ian’s past was leaked, the community called on the council to look into the matter and calls have been made for the headteacher to resign.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has promised to hold a full investigation into why he was hired by the school.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “Ian Mikardo School has employed a rehabilitated offender who was subject to enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and subsequent risk assessment.
“This helps employers make safe recruitment decisions and prevents unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. The member of staff has worked satisfactorily in his role and without incident for a number of years.
“The council recognises that this issue is one which may cause concern within the wider community. We are confident that the relevant checks were made prior to the individual’s appointment and there is no risk to children at the school.
“We would urge the community around the school to respond to the news of his employment calmly, taking into account the years of service (in both a voluntary and paid capacity) during which this individual was found to be an exemplary employee.
“Families with children at Ian Mikardo school are welcome to discuss any concerns they may have with the head teacher or chair of governors.”
In September 2015, Ian appealed for help from the community to support his 74-year-old neighbour Janet Korbo, who finds it difficult to move about.
The former construction worker had been helping Janet by improving her bathroom to make it more accessible to her.
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