March 2007

Teacher jailed for grooming pupil

A music teacher who sexually groomed one of his pupils has been jailed for 12 months.

David Howell, 34, of Bicknacre, Essex, sent the girl a string of sexually-explicit messages, London’s Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

The jury on Friday convicted him of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity “while in a position of trust”.

Howell had denied the charge, claiming he was the victim of a pupil vendetta.

The court heard the girl initially thought he was trying to be helpful with her schoolwork.

But in the following months, the father of two bombarded her with messages.

The court heard that on one occasion he texted: “Truth be told you really turned me on yesterday.”

In desperation, she pleaded with him to stop and eventually told a friend who raised the alarm.

Judge Timothy King told Howell: “She found these text messages highly objectionable and made her concerns known to you and complained about them.

“The messages became stronger and, if anything, even more personal.”

The court heard Howell had previously been disciplined for the “inappropriate use” of another pupil’s phone.

The judge said his decision to “brazen it out before a jury” and force his victim to relive her “considerable distress” meant he had forfeited any right to leniency.

As well as jailing him, Judge King also ordered Howell to register as a sex offender for 10 years and disqualified him from ever working with children again.

He also told him he would be subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, strictly controlling his contact with children.