March 2015

Sports teacher who attempted to arrange threesome with two besotted schoolgirls is jailed


A supply teacher who was caught attempting to arrange a threesome with two teenage pupils has been jailed.

James Heathcote, 26, groomed two besotted schoolgirls and pestered them to fulfil his fantasy of having a threesome while working at St Helena School in Colchester, Essex.

The former sports coach even exposed himself to the girls on webcam whilst trading explicit messages referring to bondage and strip tease fantasies.

He was only caught when a fellow pupil reported the explicit messages before he could convince the teenage girls to go through with his perverted plan.

Heathcote, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, fought back tears in the dock at Chelmsford Crown Court as he was jailed for five months.

He had admitted two charges of inciting two girls to engage in sexual activity by a person in a position of trust at a previous hearing but denied a third charge of sexual touching, involving allegedly kissing a pupil, which will now lie on file.

Judge David Turner QC said: “Young women in school are entitled to be protected – even from themselves.

“You were the subject of some attention from female pupils and you may have found that flattering, but you should not have acted on it.

“You exchanged messages that were plainly, openly and explicitly sexual. You made references to bed, sex, intercourse, tying up and ‘banging’.

“The sexual nature of these messages is unmistakable. You had asked for a ‘threesome’ with the young women, which they refused.

“It needs to be understood that people in a school setting owe a duty of care to the young people in their charge.

“You have fallen far short in that duty.”

Heathcote joined the school as a part-time supply teacher in Spring 2013 before taking up a full time role in September 2013 and moving into a house on school property.

His flirty nature with pupils was noted by colleagues who warned him to discourage his young female admirers.

st helena

St Helena School in Colchester

He ignored the advice before swapping phone numbers with two schoolgirls in October 2013 when they complained about struggling with exam stress.

The messages soon spread onto social media sites, including Instagram and Facebook, where the exchanges became sexual in nature as he begged the girls to share intimate pictures.

On one occasion he even exposed himself to both girls on camera while chatting to them on FaceTime as they sat in their pyjamas.

Allan Compton, prosecuting, said: “Police went through some of the Facebook messages to one girl which did contain significant sexual content.

“The messages described fantasies about being tied up, strip tease, as well as fantasies about having a threesome.”

By January 2014, Heathcote had suggested a threesome to both girls and bombarded one with a staggering 242 text messages over a seven day period.

Both had admitted during the exchanges that they would “bang him” separately but refused his request of a threesome.

The explicit messaging only ended when a fellow pupil reported her suspicions and police were called in. Heathcote was arrested and contacted both girls asking them to delete all messages in a failed bid to cover his tracks.

Mr Compton added: “The aggravating features of this offending include the use of grooming behaviour and the soliciting of sexual images from the girls.

“There is, within the last text, an element of cover up when he invites them to delete text messages.

“It would appear that arrangements had been put in place to escalate to full sexual activity but, thankfully, it did not.”

The court heard yesterday how Heathcote had been dismissed from a previous role as a school sports coach in October 2012 following an allegation of sexual harassment from an adult female work colleague.

Peter Barlex, mitigating, said his client had been working as a cover supervisor at the school full-time since September 2013.

He said: “This was a situation that got out of hand. It is something he bitterly regrets ever getting involved in. “

“This was a profession he had really set his sights upon but which has now gone.”

Heathcote was jailed for five months and was made to sign onto the sex offenders register for seven years.

He was also made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order banning him from unsupervised contact with under 18s without a guardian’s consent.

St Helena School is a secondary school in Colchester, Essex, with more than 1,000 pupils.

A spokesman for the school said: “Mr Heathcote is no longer an employee of St Helena School, having been dismissed in July 2014.

“The safety and wellbeing of students is the school’s top priority and the school followed all the correct and required procedures in its pre-employment checks.

“As soon as a safeguarding concern was raised, the school alerted the police and local authority immediately and suspended Mr Heathcote.”