Havant teacher jailed for sex offences against four pupils

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Sean AldridgeImage source, Solent News & Photo Agency
Image caption,
The judge said it was "quite extraordinary" that Aldridge had been made the school's safeguarding lead

A teacher who groomed four of his pupils, including one who became pregnant, has been jailed for 12 years.

Sean Aldridge, 37, a former teacher at Warblington School in Havant, Hampshire, was found guilty of 24 counts of sexual activity with a child.

Jurors heard some of the offences took place while he was on paternity leave.

The court heard he had previously been investigated by the school but was subsequently promoted to assistant head teacher and head of safeguarding.

During the three-week trial, Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Aldridge, from Southsea, targeted four girls aged 13 to 16 between 2006 and 2012 on school premises and in his car.

One of his victims became pregnant before suffering a miscarriage, the court was told.

Image source, Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption,
Police confirmed they had previously investigated allegations relating to two of Aldridge's victims

Another said, during her first sexual encounter, Aldridge kept repeating: "I could go to prison for this."

Aldridge, who taught PE, was also convicted of one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

At his sentencing, one of his victims read out a statement saying Aldridge initially made her feel special but she was left feeling "dirty, used, stupid and embarrassed" after he took her virginity.

Passing sentence, Judge Roger Etherington said of Aldridge: "The abuse of trust was truly appalling. You were perceived as a good or outstanding teacher with a special rapport with pupils."

But, he said, Aldridge had groomed girls with "flirty texts and intimate photos".

He said it was "quite extraordinary" that by 2017 Aldridge had been made the school's safeguarding lead, a post he said would have taken "breathtaking arrogance" to apply for.

Image caption,
Aldridge was a PE teacher at Warblington School in Havant

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed it had previously investigated allegations relating to two of the girls but it later emerged Aldridge had persuaded both victims to lie.

After his sentencing, Det Insp Toby Elcock said: "Aldridge had such a hold on the girls that they did not feel able to report what was happening to them when police spoke with two of the victims back in 2010 and 2012.

"However, thanks to the bravery of those girls, who are now grown women, that silence was broken."

Emma Lile, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Aldridge had "groomed and abused the trust of four young girls" who he deliberately targeted because they were vulnerable.

She said: "He took any opportunity to have sex with them on school premises or at his home. He thought he could lead a normal life being married and having children without probably being ever caught."

A Hampshire County Council spokesperson said the school took "immediate action" when it was informed by police of the allegations in 2017 by asking Aldridge to stay absent from work during the investigation.

The spokesperson added: "While the county council is unable to comment on the reasons for the individual's changes in position and role at the school, which are matters for local school decision makers, it should be noted that all of the relevant checks were carried out on this employee."

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