Boarding school deputy housemaster, 41, who told a 15-year-old girl he wanted to take a bath with her and tie her up with ribbon is jailed for 36 weeks
A deputy housemaster at a private Lancashire boarding school who told a 15-year-old student he would like to take a bath with her and tie her up with ribbon has been jailed for 36 weeks.
Geography and geology teacher Mark Hannah, 41, swapped a series of messages with the girl over Instagram in which he said she looked ‘beautiful’ after she asked to join his after-class basketball club.
During a month-long period between September and October last year, Hannah told the girl how she had ‘stood out to him’ since she was in year 9 and said he would like to take her out for meals and walks.
In one message Hannah said: ‘I would be the happiest man on earth if we could stop hiding our feelings and I could quit my job.’
On one occasion during a lesson he secretly drew a love heart on a piece of paper and wrote the letter U in it before giving it to the girl.
Hannah was arrested after the girl shared some of the messages with a classmate who alerted her mother.
Inquiries revealed he had previously dated a 17 year old girl when he was 33 and had taken indecent pictures of her.
At Preston Crown Court, Hannah of Birchington, Kent who was educated at a school for military families in Germany pleaded guilty to inciting an underage girl into sexual activity and making indecent images and was jailed for 36 weeks.
He blamed his actions on working ‘long hours with no recognition’ but a judge told him that his actions ‘undermined trust in the teaching profession.’
Prosecutor, Paul Cummings, said: ‘The defendant was a Geography teacher and the victim was a 15 year old pupil there at the time.
‘Contact began with the pupil when she sent an email message enquiring about after school basketball and the defendant was responsible for the running of that. The defendant responded and then a subsequent email exchange began between the two of them.
‘They then starts to communicate over Instagram and, during the course of sending these messages, it became apparent that he was making inappropriate comments. On one occasion, she broke her finger and then he sent her an email with a picture of a plaster cast.
‘On another occasion, he asked if he could give her some chocolate. But, he then told her that she looked beautiful and how she had stood out to him since she was in year 9.
‘He said that he would like to take her out for meals and walks. On another occasion, he said he would like to take a bath with her, tie her up with a ribbon and digitally penetrate her vagina.
‘On another occasion, he told her that she had a nice belly. He said he would be the happiest man on earth if they could stop hiding their feelings and he could quit his job.
‘The complainant shared some of these messages with her friend and, as a result, her friend’s mother became aware of this contact. She contacted the complainant’s parents and they went to the school to confront this man.
‘The defendant was arrested and interviewed in October 2017, and he admitted the exchange of messages. They took place over a period of two weeks prior to his arrest.
‘The charge of making indecent images is an entirely separate allegation. A previous girlfriend of the defendant allowed him to take photos of her.
‘The female involved at time was 17 and she was subsequently contacted by the police where she confirmed that she was voluntarily photographed on those occasions in 2009/2010.
Sentencing Judge Nicholas Barker told Hannah: ‘You incited a girl into sexual activity while in a position of trust – as a teacher.
‘You will have been trained on the importance of safeguarding pupils and you have been at that school for some time now and you are not a young man.
‘You’re mature and, in my judgement, must be dealt with as a man who is responsible. The impact of this breach of trust will affect so many.
‘It will affect the victim, her family, the school in which you taught, and your fellow teachers who will no doubt wonder if this could have been avoided if they had employed the right teacher.
‘This undermines trust in the teaching profession and impacts on the activities available to children in school.
‘In her mother’s victim impact statement, she said that she became concerned when her daughter told her that she was in the gym and another male teacher was present.
‘There was nothing wrong with this situation, but that’s the impact that your actions have had.
‘She was 15 and, when she contacted you about joining basketball classes, you groomed her, there’s no other word for it.
‘Your conversation began innocently, but then you started talking about how beautiful you thought she was and that you would one day like to tie her up with a ribbon in the bath and digitally penetrate her.
‘Although this is a single offence, it must be understood that each time you communicated in this way, it was a deliberate action taken by you. Fortunately, it came to an end when her parents confronted you and you were arrested.
‘I have heard that you are remorseful but this is at the higher end of the offence because you were a teacher, the disparity in age, 40 and 15, and the location.
‘You were at school and on one occasion you walked into a lesson and drew a love heart on a piece of paper and wrote the letter U in it.
‘It seems to me that I have to ask myself whether the appropriate sentence would be one of immediate custody. In my judgement, that is the case.’
Hannah was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for five years and abide by a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.