April 2005

Teacher jailed for sex with schoolgirls

A TEACHER who had sex with two schoolgirls has been sent to prison for two-and-a-half years.

Bespectacled David Wootton, 36, was told by Judge Andrew Patience QC at Maidstone Crown Court that he had exploited both girls.

“If teachers cannot be trusted, then to whom can they look when they are not at home receiving the guidance and care of their parents?”, the judge asked.

The court heard that divorcee Wootton, who also taught music and citizenship, had sex 30 to 40 times with one of the girls, then aged 16. He went to bed with her at his home in Boundary Road, Chatham, just hours after having unprotected sex with the other girl, who was just 15.

Peter Alcock, prosecuting, said: “He misused his position as a teacher to have sex with two teenage pupils.”

The court heard that Wootton also made threats against the girls and to kill himself, and tried to persuade a colleague to give him a false alibi, when the police eventually became involved.

The court heard that at first neither girl would make a statement to the police.

The older girl did eventually talk to them in August last year after Wootton turned up at her home. Concerned by his behaviour, the girl’s mother called the police.

The 15-year-old girl also made a statement to the police. She described herself as having a crush on Wootton, who would sing love songs to her, phone and text her.

During the police investigation it also came to light that Wootton had asked a colleague for a false alibi.

Mr Alcock explained: “The defendant said he was in big trouble. He admitted having sex with one of his students and asked his colleague to lie for him by saying he had been with the defendant on a relevant date.”

Another member of staff also made a statement to the police, recalling a time when she caught Wootton alone with one of the girls behind lockers at the school at 6pm.

Wootton admitted two charges of sexual activity while in a position of trust in December 2003 and one offence of abuse of trust involving sexual activity with the older girl between May and August last year. He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice between February and March.

Jailing him Judge Patience said the offences were themselves serious, but further aggravated by his “wicked” threats and his attempt to make someone lie for him.

“It is quite clear to me that you had a distorted perception of the relationships between you and them,” he added. “They were not in equal terms but exploitative by you of them and a gross breach of trust.”

Wootton, who now lives in Lincolnshire and works in recruitment, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years for each of the sex offences and six months concurrent for perverting the course of justice.

His licence period was extended to three years, he was also disqualified from working with children and ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

Loiuse Oakley, defending, told the court that although Wootton knew prison was inevitable, he found the prospect “terrifying”.

“He is fully remorseful, ashamed and fully accepts responsibility,” she said. “He succumb to temptation. He wanted a normal relationship but knew what he was doing was wrong, crazy, stupid, and never going to work.”

Wootton grew up in Chatham with before going to university and gaining a degree in theology. This lead to voluntary work in Israel and Jerusalem before starting his teaching career.

Having been bullied as a schoolboy and a short spell in Maidstone Psychiatric Hospital for depression and anxiety in his late teens, Wootton, said Miss Oakley, lacked confidence. However, his new career enabled him to “come out of himself”.

“But he accepts his behaviour was completely unacceptable and he allowed his position as a teacher to be used, “she added.

The court also heard, however, that Wootton genuinely believed he had a “grown-up, adult” relationship with the 16-year-old.

Miss Oakley said the threats made to the girls were made in panic and desperation.

She then read part of a letter Wootton wrote to the judge. In it he said: “I cannot excuse my actions. I am ashamed of myself and although I know my own character’s faults, I also know what I am not…I should have taken a professional and moral stand. However, to my shame I did not.”

The court heard that upon his release from prison Wootton hoped to move abroad and teach English to foreign, adult students.