September 2004

Sex romps teacher sent to jail

A TEACHER voted “the best” by pupils for three consecutive years has been jailed after admitting sex with a teenage pupil in a Sheffield school stockroom.

Patrick Woods, head of Religious Instruction at a city secondary, had liaisons with the 16-year-old in the storeroom almost every day for a month.

The married 34-year-old also groped and kissed her on a day trip with his young daughter and slept with her at her parents’ house.

Woods’ classes had the best exam results in the school.

Now the popular teacher, seen “as a friend” to many pupils, is a ruined man after being jailed for 12 months, banned from working with children and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Recorder of Sheffield Judge Alan Goldsack QC said: “She was not the first and will not be the last schoolgirl to develop a crush on a male teacher. It was always desirable for teachers to resist such a situation, but now the law requires it.”

Woods, of Linburn Road, Meadowhead, sobbed and shook in the dock at Sheffield Crown Court as his obsession for the vulnerable youngster was revealed.

The month-long affair began after the girl sent a text message on New Year’s Eve, saying she had a crush on him.

Prosecutor Andrew Hatton said: “The defendant said he wouldn’t tell anyone because he wanted her all to himself. She was excited, she was infatuated and the number of text messages being sent fuelled this infatuation.

“The girl said that the defendant sent her a text message saying she was beautiful and when he saw her in the corridor the world stopped.”

The pair exchanged up to 15 text messages a day and arranged to meet in a school stockroom at lunch and break times, where they would kiss and fondle each other.

They later groped each other under a picnic table while on a day trip with his eight-year-old daughter, the court heard. The relationship ended shortly after they had sex at the girl’s parent’s house after she called in sick at scheel.

Woods, who has been a teacher for 13 years, bedded the girl after her mum went to work.

Simon Phillips, defending, said his client was an “experienced and well-respected” teacher and only allowed the affair because he was depressed.

Mr Phillips said Woods was so upset his marriage was failing he began drinking heavily and self-harming and would often arrive at work with cuts on his face.

He said: “The text message came at the wrong time. Now he comes before the court as a tragic figure. His career has been destroyed and he has brought shame upon himself and his family.”

Woods pleaded guilty to four counts of engaging in sexual activity while in a position of trust.

Judge Goldsack said: “The law is there to protect vulnerable youngsters from themselves and from older men.

“When there has been a breach there must be an effective sentence for punishment and deterrent and that means prison.”

Sheffield Council’s executive director of education Jonathan Crossley-Holland said: “The case has been dealt with in a way that reflects the severity of the offence.”