August 2006

Married art teacher jailed for four years over pupil affair

A senior art teacher who had a long-term sexual relationship with a teenage pupil was jailed for four years today.

A judge told 54-year-old Ian Blott he had destroyed part of the girl’s life, taking her “innocence” and leaving her suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and bulimia.

Hull Crown Court heard how Blott, who has taught for 33 years, had begun the a two-and-half year relationship with the complainant when she had just turned 15.

Helen Hendry, prosecuting, said Blott had sex with her and indulged in other sex acts on numerous occasions, including in the classroom cupboard, in his car, in the steam room of his gym and on school trips.

Miss Hendry said the pair communicated regularly by text, giving examples of messages sent by the teacher such as “Can we have sex please?XX” and “Last lesson. Room 60. Fancy it?XX”

She said he also sent her pictures of his penis and indecent video clips.

Blott pleaded guilty to two specimen charges of abusing a position of trust and two of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust at a previous hearing.

His barrister Jason Pitter stressed again in court that he denied ever having sex with the girl on school premises, that it happened on no more the 10 occasions and the relationship lasted no more than a year.

Judge John Dowse said the differences in the accounts of the defendant and the girl, who is now 18, would not affect the sentence, although he said he “doubted” Blott’s claims no sex took place within the school.

Judge Dowse told the teacher: “No words of mine can restore to her the innocence which she had and you took. She suffered from bulimia nervosa – it was because of you. You must know that you’ve destroyed a least part of this girl’s life.”

The judge said he believed Blott had groomed the girl from a younger age, having first taught her when she was 13. He said reports he had received on the teacher indicated he was still in denial about what he had done.

One report said he believed the teenager “cajoled and seduced” him into the relationship.

The judge said he was pleased to hear the girl was making good progress from the array of psychiatric problems she had suffered in the aftermath of her involvement with Blott. The court heard she had just passed two A-levels, including getting an A in art, and was going on to study fine art in higher education.

But the judge told Blott: “She thought you loved her and you told her as much. She feels betrayed.”

Dressed in a dark suit, with a white shirt and striped tie, Blott, of Church Lane, Thwing, near Driffield, East Yorkshire, looked close to tears as he stood to be sentenced. He shook his head through much of the proceedings and stared at the floor.

Judge Dowse also made an order banning him from various types of contact with girls under 16-years-old.

He also said he believed the five-year maximum sentence for the offences Blott committed was probably not sufficient for some serious cases of this type. Earlier, Miss Hendry said an inquiry was under way at the Yorkshire school where Blott worked into how the matter was handled.

Following the hearing, Detective Inspector Nigel Sawyer praised the girl, saying her ordeal was “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

He said: “The victim’s parents and Humberside Police would both like to commend and pay tribute to her bravery at speaking out. This young victim has displayed tremendous courage.

“She has had to endure the normal pressures that young people have in trying to study and be successful in her life, but this has been set against a backdrop of abuse and victimisation.

“It is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“We all warn our children about strangers, but you automatically place your trust in teachers.

“Whilst Ian Blott should have been protecting, supporting and helping this young girl to develop academically, he chose to abuse his position and betray his profession and use his role to prey on a vulnerable child.”