A TEACHER at a south-west school was yesterday jailed for 45 months after he started a sexual relationship with a girl he taught when his wife left him.
Judge Mark Taft said that at the age of 48 the teacher’s life was in tatters, his 25-year career had ended and his marriage was in jeopardy after he became infatuated with a student.
The father-of-five pleaded guilty a fortnight ago in Warrnambool County Court to nine charges involving the girl, who was 15 and 16 years old at the time of the offences.
The judge previously suppressed the teacher’s name to protect the victim’s identity.
Yesterday, the teacher was jailed for 45 months and will have to serve 21 months before
being eligible for parole. He has already spent 12 days in custody. The teacher yesterday appeared gaunt and told his half-dozen supporters in court he had plenty of stories from his first few days in prison.
After sentencing he remained quiet but gave his supporters a thumbs up before being led from court.
Judge Mark Taft said in sentencing that after a separation with his wife, banter on Skype between the teacher and student progressed to a physical relationship involving kissing, oral sex, sending naked “selfies” to each other and intercourse.
The victim declined to assist police during an investigation but the teacher made a full confession interview with officers in January this year.
Judge Taft said that without those admission, the prosecution would have had great difficultly proving there had been a physical relationship.
He said the teacher was slightly obsessed with the girl, flattered by the attention, one thing led to another and the teacher admitted his thoughts were scrambled and he should have said “No” from the start.
The judge said the offending was serious and the teacher had grievously breached the trust placed in him. He said the teacher was 30 years older than the victim, he knew his responsibilities, parents expected their children to be looked after at school and the teacher had demeaned the profession he had previously served so well.
The judge noted that the teacher and two of his siblings had been victims of paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.
A report provided to the court said the offending was situation motivated rather than the teacher being attracted to young girls and those who provided references on behalf of the teacher were shocked and expressed disbelief.
The judge said he believed the teacher was remorseful and the risk of reoffending was low due to the teacher’s support by family and friends.
The judge attached considerable weight to the admissions the teacher made to police which he described as the primary evidence.