September 2013

School IT worker ‘took advantage’ of vulnerable girl

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A SCHOOL IT technician badly affected a bright pupil’s academic success and caused her to self-harm by having an illegal relationship with her, a court heard.

Andrew Carl Patton, 21, disregarded warnings from his deputy head teacher and others in May 2012 to keep his distance from the 15-year-old girl, said Nick Adlington, prosecuting.

Instead, he took her for trips alone in June 2012, and at Sutton Park, Askham Bog and Bolton Percy they had intimate kisses, held hands and hugged.

They also exchanged more than 2,000 text messages between November 2011 and May 2012.

“The text messages detailed a relationship that was rapidly becoming more and more sexual in nature,” said Mr Adlington of texts sent in June.

Patton was arrested at the York school where he worked on June 18 last year, after the girl’s parents saw the sexual text messages on her phone.

Judge Jonathan Rose told him at Bradford Crown Court: “She was in my view, highly vulnerable and you, I am satisfied, took advantage of her vulnerability.

“You have caused great damage to this child. One can only hope in time she will recover from what you have done.”

He said the girl had self-harmed since the relationship, had difficulty making friends and had done worse in exams that she had expected.

“She has lost her trust in people, because of course, the trust she placed in you was so badly breached,” the judge told Patton.

He gave Patton a community order with three years’ supervision and ordered him to go on a sex offenders’ treatment programme.

He also banned him from ever working with children again, put him on the sex offenders’ register for five years and made a restraining order barring him from ever contacting the girl again.

Patton, of Lady Hamilton Gardens, Holgate, pleaded guilty to two offences of sexual activity with a child.

For Patton, Chris Smith said the offences had led to him losing his school job and his position with the Scout Movement.

He used to lead a Beaver troop and a Cub pack in York. He gave no other mitigation after the judge indicated the type of sentence he would pass.

Mr Adlington said at the time of the offence Patton had a 20-year-old girlfriend at university.