Cumbria teacher Hayley Southwell sentenced for affair with schoolgirl

image captionHayley Southwell and her victim were counting down the days until she turned 16, Carlisle Crown Court heard

A Cumbrian teacher who admitted having a sexual relationship with a schoolgirl has been given a suspended sentence.

Hayley Southwell and her victim - who had a six-month relationship - were "counting down the days" until her 16th birthday, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Southwell, admitted having sexual activity with a girl aged between 16 and 18, while in a position of trust.

The 27-year-old of Birkby, Maryport, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

Judge Peter Hughes QC told Southwell - who has resigned from her job - that she had "destroyed her career".

She was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.

The former teacher at Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton, was arrested in January after the school received a phone call informing them of the relationship.

'Degree of grooming'

The police investigation did not uncover any evidence that sex took place while she was underage, the hearing heard. The girl has now left the school.

But Judge Hughes said Southwell had shown "a degree of grooming" and that a large number of "intimate and explicit" text messages and moving images were found.

He said "Anyone who chooses a career in teaching knows that it is wholly incompatible with that profession to have an inappropriate relationship with a pupil or student. That is what you did.

image captionThe girl has now left the school and Southwell has resigned from her job

"There was in what you did a degree of planning and in my view grooming because this was a relationship that began before the girl concerned was 16 years old.

"It was quite apparent from the text messages that you and she were waiting for her to reach that birthday before you started an active sexual relationship."

The judge said the explicit texts and images were "a significant aggravating feature".

He also said the relationship appeared to be a case of "mutual affection".

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