Teacher who had sex with her fifth-year student pleads guilty to defilement

Court heard teacher took pupil to beach where she gave him presents before they had sex

The court heard the Teaching Council of Ireland were seeking a permanent order to prevent the defendant  from teaching in the future.

The court heard the Teaching Council of Ireland were seeking a permanent order to prevent the defendant from teaching in the future.

 

A substitute teacher who had sex with her fifth-year student incorrectly thought 16 was the legal age of consent, a court has heard.

The woman (25), who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of defilement in March 2018.

The offences took places at Gormanston Beach, Gormanston, and at the Carlton Hotel, Tyrrelstown, Mulhuddart, Dublin.

The court heard the woman was aged 23 at the time of both offences and she waited until the boy’s 16th birthday before engaging in sexual activity in early 2018. They pair had met some time before this in an over-18s nightclub.

Detective Garda Stephen Hughes told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that the victim in this case was in his fifth year in secondary school when the woman started working there as a substitute teacher and began teaching him English.

He said the victim saw his teacher in a nightclub and waved at her. She came over to him, hugged him and they spoke to each other. That night they began to communicate via Snapchat, which shortly thereafter became daily communications.

The two met outside of school again in January 2018, when the teacher picked the victim up in her car and they drove around the area while talking.

On the boy’s 16th birthday, the teacher picked him up in her car and drove him to Gormanston Beach. She gave him birthday presents including a jumper, aftershave, highlighters and pens.

The teacher and the boy began to kiss in the car before the matter progressed to sexual activity. The pair went on to engage in sexual intercourse.

They met again on the day before Valentine’s Day while the boy was off school due to a mid-term break. The teacher drove the boy to the Carlton Hotel where there was a room booked in her name.

After the teacher had bought the boy dinner and they spent some time watching television in the hotel room, they once again began to kiss which led to further sexual activity. They pair once again engaged in sexual intercourse.

In a relationship

They slept together in the hotel room that night and she dropped him home the next morning. The boy told his parents that he had stayed in a friend’s house the previous night.

The teacher and the boy continued to communicate, but there was no further sexual contact. The boy believed the two were in a relationship and the teacher was concerned about people finding out as she would not be able to teach again, the court heard.

The boy’s mother was aware her son was in a relationship with a girl bearing the teacher’s name, but was unaware this person was his teacher. After being contacted about her son’s erratic school attendance, she contacted the school’s principal and discovered the woman’s identity.

The teacher’s contract with the school was terminated by the principal. In an interview with gardaí­, she said that after having sex they had discussed the age difference. She said that she looked young and that he had been in an over 18s nightclub so she was not concerned.

Det Garda Hughes agreed with James Dwyer SC, defending, that his client told gardaí­ that they waited until the boy’s 16th birthday as she believed that 16 was the appropriate age to conduct sexual behaviour. She has no previous convictions.

Mr Dwyer handed into court a report from a specialist in childhood sexual abuse. The reports stated that the teacher had no sexual interest in children or adolescents and did not qualify as being a paedophile.

The report stated that she did not groom the boy for her own sexual gratification, that he initiated sexual contact and she was flattered by it. The report concluded that she posed a very low risk of re-offending and no more risk than anyone in society.

Judge Martin Nolan said he would give his verdict on Thursday at 1pm and adjourned the case until then.

Victim impact statement

In his victim impact statement, which was read out in court, the boy said he had developed serious life-threatening anxiety and depression. He said it followed him around like “a little black cloud” and that sometimes it felt like the cloud was shaped like a barking dog.

Mr Dwyer said his client was no longer a teacher and was now employed in a different field. He said she is currently in a relationship with a 28-year-old man.

He read from a letter written by his client in which she took full responsibility for her actions and wanted to put it behind her. She said it was a “lifelong lesson” that she had learned from.

Mr Dwyer said there was a smaller age difference in this case than there were in other cases. He said that she was immature and he was attending nightclubs in his fifth year of school.

He asked the court to take into account his client’s lack of previous convictions, her guilty plea, her co-operation with gardaí, the collateral damage to her career, her remorse, her offer of donating €2,000 to charity, and her being placed on the sexual offender register.

Mr Dwyer said the Teaching Council of Ireland were seeking a permanent order to prevent his client from teaching in the future and that such an order would not be resisted by his client. He said his client erroneously believed the age of consent was 16.