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Teacher's career ruined by affair with pupil

A MATHS teacher threw his career away when he started an improper relationship with a 16-year-old girl at the Deal school where he worked.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how the couple were caught in compromising situations on separate occasions by a school secretary and a 13-year-old boy.

The 52-year-old teacher grabbed the boy and flung him against a wall, telling him that he was "deaf, blind and stupid" and that if he was reported, he would lose his job.

Ronald Cox, of Edith Road, Ramsgate, had earlier been warned by a senior teacher that for his own protection he should not be left alone with any of his pupils.

Cox had been committed for sentence by Folkestone magistrates having admitted charges of abuse when in a position of trust and common assault.

The court heard that Cox, who had been teaching since 1998, had resigned from the school and was now running his own plumbing business.

Judge Anthony Webb said that it appeared Cox had instigated the behaviour but that e-mails from the girl showed she had "responded positively".

"But you know you should have disentangled yourself," he said.

"You had plenty of warning. You had been seen by a 13-year-old pupil and warned by a senior teacher prior to these offences.

"You know you will never be permitted to return to teaching."

Cox was made subject of a three-year community rehabilitation order with a condition that he attends the Thames Valley Sex Offenders programme. He will also be on the Sex Offenders Register for five years.

Ian Foinette, prosecuting, said that it was in May that the secretary saw Cox and the girl in a cupboard in a classroom in a close embrace. His hands were on her hips and there was no protest from the girl. The secretary had the impression she was a willing partner.

Fifteen minutes later Cox asked the secretary to type his resignation letter but she refused. He was then suspended.

The 13-year-old had also seen Cox and the girl in a compromising situation and it was then he was grabbed and flung against the wall.

The incident was reported to the school authorities. Both parties at first denied anything happened and Cox denied behaving in such a way and said he was like a grandfather to his pupils.

"He was warned in March for his own protection to make sure he was not left alone with any of his pupils," said Mr Foinette.

The girl when questioned described how he kissed her when she wasn't expecting it and she wasn't terribly keen because when he came to the school he was less than popular at first.

It was after she stood up to him that he became more popular. She thought things began happening about Christmas last year and after he kissed her for the first time she said it was a bit weird.

"There was no overt coercion from Cox," said Mr Foinette. The girl said Cox told her he would like to make love to her but she said she didn't want things to go that far. There was some touching in the breast area both over and under her clothing, added Mr Foinette.

The two continued to meet after his suspension but it was nothing more than a kiss and a cuddle, she said in interview. She said she saw him briefly on the seafront and they went to an empty car park.

She told police Cox said he missed her and she went to Sandwich to meet him.

Referring to the emails, Mr Foinette said there were messages in endearing terms towards Cox from the girl.

Matters came to light because the girl realised they had been seen together.

Rizwan Ashiq, for Cox who had been teaching since 1998, said his biggest mitigation was his early plea which saved the girl having to give evidence.

He has suffered from depression and at the time his relationship with his partner was not going well and the stress added to his depression.

"As a consequence he was spending more and more time at school. He was craving some kind of attention and was not thinking straight.

"It was clearly something out of character which would not have happened under normal circumstances," said Mr Ashiq.

He said the girl's self-confidence grew and her academic work improved as she came to rely on Cox and discuss her personal problems with him.

"He realised at the time what was happening was wrong but he was in a situation where he had a problem in his home relationship and he developed feelings for this girl and found it hard to extract himself from this situation," said Mr Ashiq.

"He accepts he has been very foolish and made a big mistake. As a result, his relationship has taken a battering and he has had to sign on the sex offenders register. He has brought shame on himself and his partner."

Mr Ashiq said Cox had twice tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists and taking an overdose and knew the court would be looking at a custodial sentence.

"What he did was unethical and immoral considering their ages but she was over the age of consent."

He said Cox was now working as a self-employed plumber and had managed to salvage his relationship with his partner. The consequences of a prison sentence would be devastating and there were fears of another suicide bid if he was jailed.

Sentencing Cox, Judge Webb said he took into account his plea and his depressive illness which may have had some influence on his behaviour but he had breached the trust placed in him.

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