Hamilton teacher found guilty of indecent act with boy, aged 10

Diane Brimble leaves the County Court after yesterday’s verdict.
  140814RG05 Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Diane Brimble leaves the County Court after yesterday’s verdict.  140814RG05 Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

TEACHER Diane Brimble showed no emotion in court as she was found guilty of committing an indecent act with a child under 16.

It is likely that Brimble, a 47-year-old mother of eight from Hamilton, will never teach again after Thursday’s verdict.

Brimble had pleaded not guilty in the Warrnambool County Court trial to six charges — five counts of committing an indecent act with a child aged under 16 years and one charge of using a telecommunications device to groom a child.

After deliberating for two days the jury cleared her of five charges, including that of grooming, but found her guilty of one count of committing an indecent act, which involved hugging and kissing a 10-year-old boy and asking him to have sex.

Judge Mark Taft has extended Brimble’s bail until she returns to court for a plea hearing on Monday, September 1.

The Victoria Institute of Teaching (VIT) has control over the registration of teachers and will review Brimble’s registration. She is presently suspended.

Under VIT guidelines displayed on its website, the registration of a teacher convicted or found guilty of a sexual offence will be cancelled and the teacher disqualified from teaching in a Victorian school.

The Warrnambool police officer in charge of the case, Detective Senior Constable Laura Jordan, said the focus for police was now ensuring the victim and his family received any necessary assistance. 

During the trial, barrister Jennifer Clark said her client’s actions may have blurred the boundaries of a teacher/student relationship but fell short of criminal conduct.

She said Brimble provided motherly support for the boy and developed an affection beyond a normal teacher/student relationship.

“Ms Brimble might have overstepped the normal teacher/student relationship but she has not overstepped into criminal conduct,” she said.

Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke recalled how the boy described physical contact with the teacher as “weird” or “bad”.

Mr Bourke claimed Brimble told the boy she loved him, called him her boyfriend, said she wanted to sleep with and have sex with him, offered him vodka, showed him a suitcase which contained sex toys and exposed her breast to him.

The boy claimed Brimble changed her behaviour towards him and he didn’t like her as much because she was saying “weird things”.

Mr Bourke said other evidence indicated that Brimble had feelings or an infatuation for the boy, included a tattoo Brimble had designed and got on her chest which said “Love for ...”, the boy’s name with an infinity symbol. 

She also wrote letters, poetry and sent other messages to him, had a framed photograph of the boy on her bedside table, his image was her mobile phone screen saver, there were more than 20 photos of him on her mobile phone and she had a photo of the boy in a locket.

The prosecutor said when the boy moved schools Brimble tried to enrol her own children at his new school. She also said she wanted to be buried with a photo of the boy and a pipe cleaner ring he gave her.

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