A teacher who had an affair with a pupil then kept it a secret for more than a decade has been jailed after he tried to get back into contact with her over Facebook.
Gary Caldwell was 35 when he had a year-long fling with the 16-year-old girl during which he sent her love letters and poems saying ‘you make me lustful’ and ‘you have awakened the beast’.
The relationship remained a secret until last year when Caldwell, now 51 and a married father-of-two, sent the former pupil a friend request on the social media site.
The memories of what happened triggered panic attacks in the former pupil, a court heard, and she went to police.
Caldwell, who was still teaching at St Gregory’s Catholic High School in Warrington, Cheshire, was suspended from his job and has now been jailed for 21 months for engaging in sexual activity whilst in a position of trust.
The court heard Caldwell had been a teacher at the school for 20 years but in the year 2000 he began grooming the Year 11 pupil in his classroom when he was left alone with her in between lessons.
The jury was told he would ask the girl ‘overtly sexual conversations’ and would ask her about her boyfriend saying ‘the best thing you can do for a lad is to perform oral sex’.
He also set ‘challenges’ for her, including getting her to wear a type of high-heeled shoe to school in order to satisfy a ‘particular sexual fetish’, the court heard.
Prosecutors said he then encourage the girl to touch him intimately in the classroom and repeatedly told her not to tell anyone because ‘she would be the one who would get into trouble’. He also took her to a pop concert.
The former pupil told the hearing: ‘We would text about general chit chat. I told him I liked him and he responded saying he likes me but “he wasn’t allowed to” or I “wasn’t allowed to tell anyone”.
‘He got an e-mail address used specifically for me and would ask what I had been up to with my boyfriend. The texts were daily, even when I was in school. He was sending texts of a sexual nature.
The woman said the pair had an ‘affair’ while Caldwell was married after she left school. She said it continued for ‘roughly a year’ before she brought the relationship to an end. But she claimed Caldwell would attempt to follow her bus to college and go to her house.
She broke off the relationship but when, more than a decade later, he contacted her on Facebook, the memories of their relationship had a damaging effect on her, the court heard.
Over an eight-month period after he posted the friend request in January 2015, she would avoid driving past the school, she said.
Caldwell denied any fling and said ‘sexual’ phrases used in a poem were ‘light-hearted’ and ‘throwaway clichés’.
He added: ‘I did not see pupils on my own – it was against school policy. There would be major problems if it happened. I don’t know what would happen as it never did. I did not give out relationship advice. Teachers would not give numbers out to pupils – it was an accepted rule of the job.’
Caldwell pleaded not guilty to six charges of engaging in sexual activity whilst in a position of trust but was convicted after a trial.
Jailing him this week, the judge Mr Recorder Simon Mills told him: ‘She was 16-years-old in your care, in your classroom and in your trust. This has to be looked at in the light of the position of power and influence you had over her.
‘What you did was to groom and seduce her in the hope that that would develop into a full sexual relationship when you should have been teaching her, all purely for your own sexual interest.
‘You have betrayed her, your profession and your school – your conduct was nothing short of a disgrace and you continued to try to lie your way out of it up until this day.
‘When you gave evidence you showed a strange combination of desperation and arrogance to put an innocent slant on your clear lies.
‘You stooped to make a gratuitous attempt on the victim’s character and accused her of seeking to profit through compensation – you have not shown any remorse whatsoever.
‘What you did caused serious and long-lasting harm – the harm you caused and the absence of any remorse means that an immediate custodial sentence is inevitable.’
Caldwell was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for a period of 10 years and pay £100 costs.