Music teacher Matthew Birch guilty of raping pupils

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Matthew Birch was convicted of raping two pupils in North Lanarkshire and Fife

A music teacher who classed female pupils as "fair game" has been found guilty of rape.

Matthew Birch, 45, was described at the High Court in Glasgow as a sexual "predator" whose "prey conformed to a particular type".

He targeted girls who had musical talent but often had personal issues.

Birch was convicted of raping two pupils and having sex while in a position of trust at schools in North Lanarkshire and Fife.

He insisted during the trial that nothing inappropriate had taken place but he was found guilty of nine charges which took place between 2006 and 2017

'Father figure'

Jurors were told that Birch was initially regarded by his pupils as a "fun teacher" and a "father figure".

Prosecutor Erin Campbell said: "He systematically targeted vulnerable, female pupils, befriended them and positioned himself in their lives as a confidante."

The trial also heard how he referred to one girl as "fair game" in a text.

"That evidence supports just exactly how Matthew Birch perceived the pupils of the schools that he taught in." said Ms Campbell.

Birch told one of the pupils he was a part-time photographer and suggested taking photographs of her to boost her self-esteem.

Instead, he went to her home and raped the teenager.

Birch then turned his attention to another girl and had sex with her at his then flat in Edinburgh while his girlfriend was out.

'Not believed

Jurors heard that further sexual activity with the girl took place in a cupboard at the school and on a trip with other pupils.

But, he later insisted he "could not do it anymore" as he was going to propose to his girlfriend on holiday in the Far East.

He targeted another pupil when he moved to a different school in Fife, raping her at his new home in Falkirk.

Ms Campbell said the pupil later described her ordeal to a principal teacher who was a friend of Birch.

"She confided in her, but she was not believed. (This teacher) did not report it to anyone and instead went straight to Matthew Birch," she said.

Police were only alerted when the pupil returned to the school the following year and spoke to the head teacher.

Judge William Gallacher told Birch his "despicable" behaviour had a "catastrophic" effect on victims and he could expect a lengthy jail term when he returned to court for sentence.

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