A DISGRACED teacher has been jailed for having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old pupil at the Shipston school where he taught.
Jonathan Hunt had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.
Hunt, who was head of science at Shipston High School at the time, also admitted meeting her following grooming, intending to do something which would be an offence under the Sexual Offences Act.
In addition the disgraced teacher pleaded guilty to three further charges of causing the 15-year-old girl to watch a sexual act, while he was in a position of trust, for the purpose of him obtaining sexual gratification.
The 52 year-old, now of Somerset Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire, was jailed for a total of three years and four months and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
Judge Richard Griffith Jones also imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order with conditions including a prohibition on Hunt teaching or tutoring any girl under the age of 16 or seeking paid or voluntary work which would entail contact with a child.
He told Hunt: “From standing tall as a man of respect, you have fallen into disgrace.”
Prosecutor Simon Ward said: “Before he was convicted he was of good character and a teacher, a science teacher at [the school].”
It was ‘quite apparent’ the girl, who was 15-16 at the time of the offences, and was not being taught by Hunt, did not consider herself to be a victim.
“But she is one, and the way she feels is part of the evidence that she is,” commented Mr Ward. “She doesn’t feel it was wrong, although he says they both knew it was.”
And the Judge responded: “It is particularly damaging because although her feelings are genuine, she has no insight into the way in which, first, her parents acted in her best interest, and second, that exciting genuine feelings like this in a child is one of the reasons this is a crime.”
Mr Ward said Hunt and the girl ‘went to some lengths’ to keep things a secret.
It was only by chance that the girl’s mother happened to be by her phone when a text came through from the defendant and she could see it on the screen.
The text said something about kissing and the girl not taking their relationship seriously, and was signed JH.
“When she came home, her mother challenged her, and she said it was a boy at school.
“But she didn’t believe her and she decided the police should investigate.”
As a result Hunt was arrested, and his phone and computer were seized by the police.
“His telephone showed he and she had been exchanging messages of a sexual nature. He also had some photographs of his penis which he had sent to her,” said Mr Ward.
When the girl was interviewed by the police she said they had begun communicating through Twitter, and that she wanted a relationship with Hunt although he was reluctant at first.
After they exchanged e-mail addresses he told her he was unhappy at home, and during the summer holidays when she was 15 they went for a walk and kissed.
They had also kissed in a side room during a school prom, which was the only time there was any activity on school premises, but she went on to reveal that on two occasions when they went for walks Hunt had sexually touched her.
The girl said they had both fantasised about what it would like to be in a relationship, and as well as receiving the indecent images from Hunt, she had sent him ones of herself in her underwear and one of herself topless.
After his arrest Hunt accepted they had exchanged images and had met out of school and gone for walks, although for some time he maintained it went no further than kissing, added Mr Ward.
Jonathan Barker, defending, said: “He accepts the gross error of judgement and that there was a breach of trust.
“It is a very sad story. He’s a man of previous good character.
“He was very stressed at work, and his relationship with his wife was deteriorating fast.
“He sought emotional comfort from this girl. She showed an interest in him, and he should have rebuffed it.”
Mr Barker said Hunt had a PhD in biological sciences and had been an honorary lecturer at University College in London, and ‘by all accounts he was a very good teacher.’
“He has lost everything. He has lost his marriage and has not had contact with his children, and will never teach again.
“He got a job in a charity shop which he has also lost as a result of this case. He lives with his parents.”
Jailing Hunt, Judge Griffith-Jones told him: “Until this you were a successful, admirable teacher who had his own family.
“Of course everyone will feel sorry for a person who has emotional difficulties, and though I note them, I am bound to say they are not so extraordinary that they can provide a scintilla of excuse for what followed.
“This is not a case of a cold sexual predator. I described you as having been, until this, an admirable man.
“But it is that characteristic which will quite often excite loyalty and admiration among children for a teacher.
“You and all teachers have a responsibility for the welfare of the young people who look to you.
“That responsibility also extends to the adults whose much-loved children they place in your care and trust you will look after their interests and not indulge yourself.
“What happened here is that instead of protecting the complainant from her own feelings, you began to indulge yourself.
“The other feature that makes this serious is that this was not a fleeting relationship.”
After passing sentence, the judge commented: “Nothing could exemplify better that conscientious and attentive parents, sufficiently close and caring to monitor their teenage children, can protect in the way it did here.”