Teacher is jailed over pupil affair — (The Birmingham Mail)

SSRI Ed note: Teacher takes antidepressants, drinks heavily, begins sexual liaison with teenage student.

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The Birmingham Mail

Mar 19 2008

By Jane Tyler

A MATHS teacher at a Catholic school in Birmingham has been jailed for three years for having an affair with a pupil.

David Ablett (57) had a sexual relationship with the teenage girl at Bishop Walsh Catholic Arts College and Sixth Form Centre in Sutton Coldfield, a court heard.

But their six month affair ended when the pupil’s mother found out and reported him to police.

The girl told police that Ablett had “brainwashed her” into the affair by showering her with compliments and telling her she was beautiful.

The Birmingham Mail has not named the girl or revealed her age to protect her identity.

Ablett, of Dalkeith Road, Boldmere, pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to charges of abuse of trust, sexual activity with a child and taking and possessing indecent pictures.

As well as the jail term, he is on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely and banned from working with children.

Ablett taught at Bishop Walsh, which has 950 pupils, three days a week and also did home tutoring.

Heidi Kubik, prosecuting, said the relationship began early last year when the couple “exchanged glances” across the classroom.

“It is the prosecution’s case that as this developed into a sexual relationship, it was the defendant who was the prime mover at each stage,” she said.

She said Ablett, a widower, then invited the pupil up to his room at lunchtime “in order to see if she felt something for him. Whilst in his room he complimented her on her eyes, told her she was beautiful and flattered her and invited her back on further occasions,” she said.

A relationship was started and involved them meeting in his room at lunchtimes and kissing. On one occasion, Ms Kubik said, they were forced to switch to a store cupboard.

During all this time Ablett was living with his 26-year-old girlfriend – who he had been seeing since she was 20 – and their baby daughter.

Ms Kubik said in order for them to communicate out of school, Ablett set up a profile on MySpace giving himself the name David Hackney and his age as 39.

They contacted each other via the site and by the time police seized his computer had exchanged more than 600 messages.

Ms Kubik said their first sexual encounter happened after Ablett took the teenager for a meal at the Harvester restaurant in Bold-mere before going to a room at the adjoining Travelodge.

By now he had told his live-in girlfriend to go back to her parents because they were “not getting on”.

“He was now able to bring the pupil back to his house and he did this on three occasions, where he offered her alcohol and sexual activity took place,” Ms Kubik said.

They never had full sex because the girl told Ablett she “wasn’t ready for it”.

Whilst in his home Ablett persuaded the girl to pose for indecent pictures and he downloaded them on to his computer.

Ms Kubik said their affair was discovered when the girl’s mother became suspicious and confronted her daughter who confessed to the whole thing.

“In the police interviews the girl told how whilst she had been happy to go along with it at first, the defendant was progressing it at each stage and she was coming round to the view that she had been brainwashed by him saying how much he loved her, how beautiful she was,” Ms Kubik said.

In Ablett’s interviews he said he was in love with her and they had discussed running away and setting up a home and having children.

Catherine Spedding, defending, said Ablett had been a teacher for 13 years and before that worked as a pensions consultant.

She said he had worked at three schools in that time and had done one-to-one tutoring in his home with no allegations of impropriety.

Ms Spedding said he “succumbed to temptation” at a time in his life when he was extremely low and on anti-depressants and drinking heavily.

“It was extremely foolish and a gross breach of trust and was an escape from the stresses of life. It was almost like he was living in a different world,” Ms Spedding said.

She said his girlfriend had forgiven him and was standing by him.

Judge Elizabeth Fisher told Ablett: “I know that you bitterly regret your involvement. It was a time of sheer madness for you.

“But pupils are entitled to expect to be protected in the school environment and you abused that trust.”

Following the hearing, a spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “David Ablett was employed by the school as a casual worker.

“As soon as the headteacher was notified by the police of an investigation, he was immediately suspended from all work in the school and has not returned to the school since.”