November 2015

Jail for former Harlow teacher who sent naked photos of himself to teenage girl

The career of a former Harlow teacher who started a sexual relationship with a teenage girl over the internet lay in tatters this week after he was jailed for 18 months.

Thomas Marriot, 25, was told he had exploited his position of authority and behaved in a “most grievous way” by abusing the trust that had been placed in him.

Marriot, who now lives in Southport, pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court to five charges of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, causing her to watch a sexual act and three offences of downloading indecent images. He also admitted three further offences of downloading a total of 291 indecent images to his mobile phone.

Prosecutor Carolyn Gardiner said the relationship between Marriot and the girl started after he spoke to her about her relationship with her boyfriend.

“Their conversations indicated she was stressed and he suggested social intimacy to calm her down, telling her he was an expert at it. Later he sent her a picture of his top naked and the next day a full naked picture. He asked her to send him one back.”

During a four-month period she sent 20 photos and received 20-30 back, but in April of this year she told her mother and showed her one of the photos Marriot had sent her. The mother reported the matter and the defendant was suspended.

Andrew Nuttall, representing Marriot, said in mitigation the defendant accepted his abuse of trust was grave and what had started as banter had developed into wholly inappropriate contact.

“He understands imprisonment is the sentence,” said Mr Nuttall. He understands how serious this is and he wishes to make it clear he’s remorseful. He takes full responsibility for behaviour and the hurt it caused to the victim and her family.

“He had talents and worked hard to obtain a position of responsibility and he’s thrown it away completely. He will never again be a teacher.”

Passing sentence, judge Christopher Ball told him: “You were a young man embarking on a career in teaching involving teaching adolescent girls and are confronted with a very challenging situation that require the highest standards from the teaching profession.

“Young girls are impressionable, sexually maturing with natural curiosity and you may find them attractive and they may find you attractive – a potent mix.

“You were alert to the possibilities of social intercourse working towards sexual intimacy and intercourse. You were grooming. Parents up and down the country, particularly parents of young girls, must have confidence teachers won’t exploit them.”

In addition to the jail sentence Marriot was banned from making contact with the girl and ordered to remain on the sexual offences register for 10 years.