Belfast Telegraph

Female teacher jailed for pupil sex 'abused her position of trust'

A 25-year-old teacher who had sex with a secondary school pupil has been sentenced to three years in prison, with the final two suspended
A 25-year-old teacher who had sex with a secondary school pupil has been sentenced to three years in prison, with the final two suspended

By Cate McCurry

A 25-year-old teacher who had sex with a secondary school pupil has been sentenced to three years in prison, with the final two suspended.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard she was a substitute teacher and he was a fifth-year student at the time.

Judge Martin Nolan described the crimes as "serious", adding that she must face a custodial sentence.

He described her as a young and inexperienced teacher at the time of the offences, adding that her behaviour brought shame and ridicule on herself.

"She abused her position of trust and authority," Judge Nolan said.

The court heard that the substitute teacher was 23 years old when she met the student in a nightclub in 2017, after which they continued to communicate through social media.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the boy, waited until his 16th birthday before she had sex with him because she believed this was the age of consent.

Sentencing the defendant, Judge Nolan said: "Undoubtedly, her behaviour brought shame on herself. It seems almost certain that she has lost her opportunity to teach for a considerable period of time."

Judge Nolan said he could accept that she believed the age of consent to be 16. However, he added that she was a teacher at the time and should have known the correct age.

He said the mitigating factors in the case were her early pleas to two counts of defilement, that she co-operated fully, that she made full admissions and had no previous record.

He said that the aggravating factors in the case were that she was a teacher of the boy and that she was in a position of authority and trust.

"Unfortunately, she abused her position of trust," he added.

"It is completely unethical and immoral for a teacher to have these sexual relations with a student.

"It became criminal when the student she had sex with was under the age of consent.

"These are the bare bones of this case."

He said the real question was whether the defendant deserved an immediate custodial sentence, adding that it was the view of the court that she did.

"She was a young and inexperienced teacher at the time," he said.

He added that court reports stated it was unlikely she would offend again.

Judge Nolan said he had considered supervision by the probation services but had decided that was not appropriate as he did not believe the woman would re-offend.

The defendant, who wept throughout the hearing, was sentenced to three years in prison, with the final two suspended on the condition that she keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

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