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Teacher, 23, caught ‘romancing’ schoolgirl, 16, in school premises


A male teacher at a Catholic school was caught in a passionate embrace with a 16 year old schoolgirl.

The pair were spotted ‘writhing’ on the floor of the school’s music room at the end of a parent-teacher evening.

They were discovered when another teacher looked out of a staff room window and saw the pair in the music room.

History teacher James Mullen, 23, of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, had only been at the school a few months and, on his arrival, had gone on a child protection course which he had passed with flying colours.

Even so it didn’t stop him forming a physical relationship with the girl, kissing her when they were alone together and exchanging text messages.

Now Mullen is behind bars and his career is in ruins after a judge jailed him for eight months.

Mullen, who arrived at the school last September, appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Friday to admit three charges of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.

Sally Mealing-McLeod, prosecuting, said Mullen had arrived at the school straight from university and had immediately been sent on the child protection course.

He was instructed on what was appropriate behaviour when dealing with the youngsters and the court heard he had achieved a 100 per cent pass mark at the end.

The prosecutor said on February 26 this year a parent-teacher evening was held at the school.

At the end of it around 10pm a colleague of Mullen went into a staff room to prepare some food for herself in a kitchen area.

‘She happened to look out of a window which gave her a clear view of the music room and it was well lit inside the room,’ said Miss Mealing-McLeod.

The court heard the teacher was able to see two figures ‘writhing’ on the floor and locked ‘in a passionate embrace’.

Miss Mealing-McLeod said the teacher recognised the 16-year-old and then saw the man with her was Mullen.

Moments later the girl emerged from the music room in a ‘dishevelled state’ and, on being challenged by the teacher, broke down.

Police were called to the school that night and Mullen was arrested. Interviewed about what had been going on, the girl told officers it had begun days earlier on Valentine’s Day.

‘She said following a friendship, there had been a consensual sexual relationship which developed between her and the defendant.’

She said on February 14 they had shared a ‘passionate kiss’ and there had been another, again in the music room.

Asked what had happened on the night of February 26 she said they had again indulged in passionate kissing with the defendant rubbing her chest area over her clothing.

The girl said that night Mullen had told her he loved her and she had told him she loved him too.

She said the plan was to keep their relationship a secret until she left school.

The prosecutor said from text messages found on the defendant’s phone it was clear he knew that what he was doing was wrong

In one exchange when the girl had asked him ‘Is this law breaking? How much trouble could we get into?’ he had texted back: ‘Unfortunately, with me you are classified as vulnerable because I am your teacher’.

The girl had also sent Mullen a text which said: ‘It feels so right – I am not giving that up.’

The court was told how on February 13 this year Mullen had been spoken to over concerns about his behaviour around the school with pupils which included watching DVDs with them and sharing pizzas.

Andrew Kerry defending said ‘Clearly this is a breach of trust relationship.

‘We have a very immature young man who has not seen the line with a 16 year old girl.’

He said Mullen now regretted what had happened and had lost his job and knew he couldn’t save his career.

‘Perhaps the biggest punishment is his loss of his chosen career,’ said Mr Kerry.

Passing sentence Judge Streven Gullick told Mullen that by going on the child protection course after arriving at the school and passing ‘with flying colours’ he had clearly known how he was expected to behave around the pupils and what the boundaries were.

‘You decided not only to stretch them but to cross those boundaries,’ he said.

Judge Gullick said there had been some ‘grooming’ by Mullen and at one point the girl’s own mother had warned her about his behaviour.

He said it was a gross breach of trust and it was also apparent that when speaking to probation staff who were preparing a pre-sentence report, Mullen had given the impression he ‘really couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about’.

He was jailed for eight months and his name will go on the sex offenders register for the next 10 years.

Mullen was also made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order and banned from working with children.

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