Published: 16:08, 12 August 2019
| Updated: 08:14, 13 August 2019
A grammar school teacher has today been jailed for grooming and repeatedly having sex with a young girl.
Barton Court's Michael McCarthy, 46, shared thousands of texts with his victim, who he molested numerous times over a year-long period.
He even proposed to marry his victim and arranged for her to spend nights at his home.
McCarthy, who taught maths at the Canterbury school, earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a child, engaging in sexual conversation and taking/making indecent images.
Judge Simon James said McCarthy preyed on the girl.
“It is only now that she is free of your influence that she has come to understand just how abusive, coercive and controlling your relationship with her was,” he said.
“I consider that your behaviour, including your intimate, sexualised and regular communications amounted to a process of grooming her.”
Prosecutor Simon Taylor told the court text conversations between McCarthy and the girl quickly turned sexual after he fostered a “father and daughter-style relationship”.
“The victim said she thinks the defendant took advantage of her because he saw that she was vulnerable and he pushed her as far as she would go,” Mr Taylor said.
“She said that sex was something she had nightmares about, and the defendant saw it as a point on which he could go forward.”
A police probe into McCarthy’s phone revealed some 500 photos of the girl, many of them "selfies" and a number sexual.
Mr Taylor read out a string of McCarthy’s disturbing texts to the court, as the victim’s family sat in the public gallery.
McCarthy – 10 metres away in the dock – did not appear to look at the family during the sentencing hearing.
“The defendant asked for her to delete the messages, he told her of the consequences, and told her his life was in her hand,” added Mr Taylor.
Canterbury Crown Court heard McCarthy was suspended after his arrest.
But he would continue texting the victim, prompting her mother to become suspicious and call the police.
Following his arrest, McCarthy breached bail by writing a letter professing his love to the victim and one apologising to her mother, the court heard.
Judge James added: “While your deluded thinking and endeavours to contact your victim and her family following your arrest are concerning, your convictions make it highly unlikely that you will be placed in such close contact with children in the future.”
The grammar school teacher suffered a downturn in mental health since offending, his defence said.
Mitigating, Mitchell Cohen added McCarthy was of previous good character, emotionally unstable at the time of the attacks and “needed to be needed.”
McCarthy was jailed for five years and will be subject to a restraining order and Sexual Harm Prevention Order on his release.
In a letter to parents in June after McCarthy was convicted, executive head teacher Kirstin Cardus said the school was “appalled”.
She said McCarthy had “passed all safer recruitment checks” when hired in September 2016.
The school has been approached for further comment.