April 2021

IT teacher had sex with 15-year-old boy he met on Grindr

A disgraced teacher has been jailed after grooming a 15-year-old boy he met through a dating app.

Craig Slater was working as an IT teacher at Byrchall High School, in Ashton-in-Makerfield, when he first made contact with his victim on Grindr, prosecution barrister Ben Lawrence told Bolton Crown Court. 

The court heard that Slater, 40, then groomed the boy in a ‘sophisticated and highly effective manner’ between June and November 2019.

Despite the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, listing his age as 18 on the app, sick Whatsapp messages retrieved from Slater’s phone proved that he knew his true age before meeting him.

In the depraved conversations, Slater described himself as a ‘sex-obsessed pervert’ and said it wouldn’t be a problem if the boy turned up to one of their meetings in his school uniform.

Slater used a fake name – Andrew Spilter – and would often sexualise regular conversations. When the boy expressed his reservations, he said: ‘It makes me feel like I’m coercing you into it’.

Mr Lawrence submitted that this response was a sophisticated grooming method.

Slater, who is in an open relationship, also told the boy that he wouldn’t be telling his partner about their relationship because it was ‘technically naughty’.

Slater told the victim ‘I don’t want to wait until then’, after the boy revealed when his 16th birthday was. 

Slater bought his victim gifts, suggested he could book them a hotel room, and on at least one occasion sent a lengthy message indicating that he had romantic feelings for him.

They swapped explicit photographs and videos and eventually met up for sexual activity on three occasions.

Police became aware of Slater’s crimes in May 2020, when the boy named him during enquiries into an unrelated matter.

Officers seized Slater’s phone and he was arrested.

On his phone, there were 19 indecent images of the boy – one category A, two category B and 16 category C.

During his police interview, Slater told police that he had believed the boy was 18-years-old, because of his Grindr profile.

He also told officers that he didn’t believe that the boy was actually 15 and thought that it was just ‘fantasy’.

Slater admitted that he was attracted to ‘young trendy guys’, aged between 17 and early 20s, and when asked about one of the occasions he had sex, he said: ‘It wasn’t my finest hour.’

He pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual activity with a child, three counts of possessing indecent images of a child, engaging in sexual communication with a child, inciting a child to watch sexual activity, and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Sentencing Slater to five years and three months imprisonment, the judge Recorder Alex Leach described the offences as ‘reprehensible’.

He added: ‘During your dialogue with him, you groomed him in a sophisticated and highly effective manner, drawing him into performing sexual acts, both over the internet and in person, for your gratification.

‘The fact that you worked as a teacher, the fact that you must’ve understood the impact that this type of offending could have upon teenage boys, the fact that you understood the safeguarding and particular vulnerability associated with someone the age of the complainant neutralises any mitigation you might otherwise have been able to draw from your long service as a teacher.’

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order has been imposed on Slater until further notice and he will have to sign the sex offenders register for life.