August 2010

Staffordshire schoolteacher jailed for sexual activity with pupil

A Staffordshire schoolteacher has been jailed for kissing and fondling a 15-year-old former pupil he invited to his home.

Science teacher Paul Saunders, who resigned from his job at Polesworth High School, in Dordon, near Tamworth, and can never teach again, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to sexual activity with the girl.

The 25-year-old, of Cowley, Lakeside, Tamworth was jailed for six months, ordered to register as a sex offender for seven years and made subject to a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO)

Prosecutor Vicki Lofrese said Saunders had been a trainee teacher at a Tamworth secondary school for a year, and left in July 2008 before taking up his job at Polesworth in the September of that year.

During the summer holiday he gave the girl his mobile phone number so she could let him know her exam results after he bumped into her by chance. Miss Lofrese said he had done the same to other ex-pupils.

She said, he and the girl then began to exchange text and MSM messages, which became “sexually suggestive and flirtatious”.

Following this he invited her to his home where he kissed and fondled her in November 2008, said Miss Lofrese.

She said the girl told no-one about the offence for a year, until she broke down in tears and told her mother, then a teacher, and the police were called.

Saunders was arrested in March this year and he said he accepted sexual activity had taken place, but said he was no longer the girl’s teacher and claimed he thought she was 16.

Darron Whitehead, defending, said: “It was a substantial error of judgement.”

He added that Saunders’ teaching had been of a high standard, according to a reference from the head at Polesworth, but now “he will never be able to fulfil his career ambition of teaching and educating”.

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones told Saunders: “Parents send their children to school every day, and they have to know that the teachers those children are going to often look up to have to have complete integrity in the relationship they have with those children.”

Under the SOPO Saunders cannot undertake any activity or employment likely to bring him into contact with children for ten years. 

A further charge of sexual activity with another 15-year-old in August last year, which he denied, was allowed to lie on the court file.