Lesbian teacher, 27, who had sex with pupil after grooming her with intimate texts and video messages while she was 15 walks FREE from court

By on August 12, 2014

A lesbian teacher who had sex with a pupil after grooming her with text messages and videos has walked free from court.

Hayley Southwell sent ‘explicit’ messages to the girl who she met while teaching at Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton, Cumbria.

The 27-year-old from Birkby, near Maryport, engaged in a relationship with the pupil and ‘counted down the days’ until her 16th birthday so they could have sex, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

After being arrested in January following an anonymous phone call to the school, Southwell was convicted of sexual activity with a young person aged between 16 and 18 while in a position of trust.

Today she wept as she was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years.

The court heard how Southwell sent the girl photographs and videos while she was 15, but that there was no evidence to suggest the pair had sex before her 16th birthday.

It is thought they were seeing each other for around six months before the girl turned 16.

Greg Hoare, prosecuting, said the teacher made no comment when asked by police about images discovered on a phone and two iPads seized at her house.

A collection of photographs of the pair at Alton Towers and other tourist destinations around the country were found, he said.

Many of the images were of ‘an intimate sexual nature’ as were text messages exchanged between the two.



Judge Peter Hughes QC said the woman had shown a ‘degree of planning and grooming’ as many of the messages were sent while the girl was 15.

‘Anyone who chooses a career in teaching knows that it is wholly incompatible with that profession to have an inappropriate relationship with a pupil or student. That is what you did,’ he said.



The 27-year-old wept as she was spared jail after being told there was a ‘degree of grooming and planning’ to her behaviour



The pair embarked on a relationship with Southwell was teaching at Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton, Cumbria (pictured)

‘There was in what you did a degree of planning and in my view grooming because this was a relationship that began before the girl concerned was 16 years old.

‘It was quite apparent from the text messages that you and she were waiting for her to reach that birthday before you started an active sexual relationship.’

He said that thereafter the relationship was ‘rather unattractively’ recorded both in still and moving images and that was a ‘a significant aggravating feature’.

Judge Hughes said it appeared to be a case of ‘mutual affection’ but he pointed out that adolescent boys and girls were vulnerable to the attentions from an older and sexually more aware person


Judge Peter Hughes QC said Southwell the pair ‘rather unattractively’ exchanged ‘explicit’ messages

He said contact of this nature was ‘plainly unacceptable and is potentially dangerous’ but took in her favour ‘powerful points of mitigation’ such as her previous good character and exemplary professional conduct.

Southwell was banned from working with children and will be on the sex offender’s register for 10 years.

She will also have to abide by a 12-month supervision order.

The court heard the girl, no longer a pupil at the school, did not co-operate with the investigation but admitted they had been having a relationship.

Her parents had also not been forthcoming in making their views on the subject known to the court.

David Polglase, defending, said: ‘All that she has worked for and achieved and could have gone on to achieve in the teaching profession is now lost to her.

‘She will have to live with that forever.’

Mr Polglase said it was a consensual relationship and it was not a case of grooming where the victim was ‘bombarded with unwanted texts and Facebook messages’.

He added the woman has received a conditional offer of employment as a carer of adults and that the court ‘should not deprive society of somebody who has so much to offer’, especially considering she had been ‘brave’ to come out after hiding her sexuality from family members.

Jon Brown, NSPCC Lead for Tackling Sexual Abuse said: ‘Sentences should always reflect the seriousness of the offence, no matter who is charged, and should take into account the impact on the young victim.’



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