Monday, December 10, 2012
A mother has warned parents to check who their children are contacting on social networking sites after a disgraced Suffolk teacher who had sex with her 14-year-old daughter was jailed for five years.
Christopher Wilkinson, who taught maths and IT at Stradbroke High School in north Suffolk, befriended the shy teenager and used Twitter to arrange illicit meetings to have sex with her.
On one occasion 39-year-old Wilkinson, a father-of-two, bought a tent at a DIY store and had sex with the girl in it on a beach in Great Yarmouth and on another occasion he took her to a hotel where they had sex twice, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Wilkinson, who was living in Church Street, Worlingworth, admitted seven offences of sexual activity with a child and two offences of making indecent pictures of children.
The victim of the offences and her mother were in court on Friday as a judge jailed Wilkinson for five years and told him: “Your conduct has brought teaching generally into disrepute while your own personal career is in tatters.”
Judge Rupert Overbury said police officers who examined computer equipment belonging to him found 5,500 indecent images of children and many of them were of girls of a similar age to the victim.
“That makes it plain to me that prior to your offending towards her you had an unhealthy interest in young girls which led you to gain her trust and establish a sexual relationship with her. There was a degree of calculation towards her,” said the judge.
After the sentencing hearing the girl’s mother said she knew her daughter had a Twitter account and had been shocked to discover that Wilkinson had been using it to arrange illicit meetings with her.
“With social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook children aren’t safe in their own homes,” she said.
Meanwhile, her daughter urged children who were being sexually abused to find the courage to report what was happening them. She said that what Wilkinson had done to her had a significant impact on her life.
Michael Crimp, prosecuting, told the court that Wilkinson had sexual intercourse with the girl, who had been a virgin, on a number of occasions over a period of six months.
They had initially talked to each other but this had progressed to kissing and then a sexual relationship.
On the first occasion Wilkinson had sex with the girl he brought along condoms and a blanket and took her to a wooden shelter near his home.
On two other occasions they had sex in a wooded area and on another occasion Wilkinson pre-booked a hotel room on-line and had sex with the girl twice during a four-hour stay.
On the last occasion Wilkinson bought a tent from a DIY store and had sex with the girl in it on a beach at Great Yarmouth.
Mr Crimp said that after his arrest Wilkinson had been frank with police about what had been going on.
He said of the 5,500 indecent images of children found on two USB drives, on a scale of one to five with level five being the most serious, 3,000 of the images were level one and 2,037 were level three.
Matthew Gowen, for Wilkinson, said his client had no previous convictions and had been a teacher since 2005.
He said Wilkinson had felt genuine affection for the girl and had not coerced her in any way.
He said that as a result of his “spectacular fall from grace” Wilkinson had lost his career, friends and members of his family.
His wife had started divorce proceedings almost immediately after his arrest and he had also let down his parents who had both been teachers.
“He is genuinely sorry. He was the adult and he knows he simply shouldn’t have let this behaviour carry on,” said Mr Gowen.
In addition to being jailed, Wilkinson was made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order and was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.