Teacher Alexander Thomas 'asked for underwear photos'

Alexander Thomas Image copyright PA
Image caption Teacher Alexander Thomas was arrested after colleagues became aware of rumours circulating between pupils

A teacher befriended four sixth form pupils on Facebook before asking for photographs of them in their underwear, a court has heard.

Alexander Thomas, 30, of Taw Hill, Swindon, is accused of using the social networking site to gain the trust of the girls, aged 16 and 17.

Swindon Crown Court heard he then went on to have "sexual activity" with two of the girls.

Mr Thomas, who was a PE and business studies teacher, denies all charges.

The jury was told the offences took place between 31 August 2010 and 12 October 2012.

Flirtatious emails

Mr Thomas is charged with two counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust and possessing an indecent photograph of a child.

He is also charged with five counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity while in a position of trust.

He was arrested in October 2012, after teachers at his school became aware of rumours circulating between pupils, the jury was told.

In a police interview, the court heard, he admitted being in contact with four girls and receiving photographs of them but denied any sexual contact.

"He asked them to send him photographs of themselves in their underwear and asked them to meet up with him for the purpose of sexual activity," said Anna Squire for the prosecution.

"On two of these occasions, actual sexual activity took place."

The court heard not long after he began working at the school in 2010 he contacted one of the pupils on Facebook saying: "I see you round school a lot."

Miss Squire said the two began communicating and met up near the school.

Miss Squire told the court Mr Thomas invited the teenager to stay at his home address where he lived with his parents.

"He told her they would assume she was his girlfriend," said Miss Squire.

"She inferred that his intention was sexual.

"The girl did not accept the offer."

Miss Squire then told the court about a second pupil who received "flirtatious emails" from Mr Thomas which "moved on to discussions about her body, in particular her breasts".

'Topless image'

The girl sent photographs in her underwear but ignored Mr Thomas' requests for topless images, the jury heard.

She allegedly met the teacher on two occasions, with him touching her indecently, kissing her and asking her for sex during a walk.

A third girl was contacted by Mr Thomas before she started sixth form and was repeatedly asked for photographs of herself in her underwear, Miss Squire told the court.

The girl allegedly sent Mr Thomas five photographs, including one topless image. The court heard he then asked her to meet him in a hotel but she refused.

The court heard a fourth girl received a Facebook message from Mr Thomas asking her to come to school to help him find a piece of her coursework.

She claims to have later received a text from Thomas stating: "We could have fun together :-)."

"He told her she must not tell anyone as his job would be at risk," Miss Squire said.

The pair allegedly met twice at a swimming pool, with Mr Thomas once touching her under her bikini bottoms as they sat in the hot tub, the jury was told.

An indecent image of the girl was later discovered on Mr Thomas' computer, the court heard.

The trial is expected to last for six days.

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