CCTV nabs teacher having affair with 14-year-old pupil, tribunal hears

CCTV captured the teacher and the pupil emerging from underneath a school stage
CCTV captured the teacher and the pupil emerging from underneath a school stage

A drama teacher was exposed as having an affair with a 14-year-old pupil after CCTV showed them emerging from beneath the school stage, a tribunal heard.

Marc Richardson, 34, the head of drama at Tottington High School in Bury, Greater Manchester, faces being struck off after a National College of Teaching and Leadership panel found him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The tribunal hearing in Coventry was told that the married father began a sexual relationship with the 14-year-old girl - referred to as Pupil B during the hearing - despite being issued a final warning from the school for "inappropriate communications" with another student, Pupil A.

The panel heard that in 2012, Richardson sent "inappropriate and flirtatious" tweets to Pupil A and told her to keep the conversations secret.

He admitting telling her she was "a nightmare to teach as she was so attractive", and had touched her bottom with his hand.

He was issued with a final written warning by the school on January 25 2013 which prohibited physical contact or social media contact with pupils.

But on May 14 last year, Richardson, who was not at the hearing, admitted being alone with Pupil B in a room under the school stage outside teaching hours, and gave inconsistent explanations for being there.

Following notification that the school would investigate allegations of an inappropriate relationship with Pupil B, he resigned with immediate effect.

Richardson was also arrested but released without charge.

He admitted failing to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with Pupil A in 2012.

The panel concluded "it was clear" that the illicit meeting under the stage was pre-arranged, although there was no persuasive evidence of sexual contact on that occasion.

The panel heard that he sent messages to Pupil B, engaging in inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature, calling her "baby", and even told her: "I'm stopping you from seeing other people."

The panel was told that Pupil B's mother said she had had "niggling feelings" about Richardson for a number of months, and that Pupil B suddenly asked about the contraceptive pill.

Another witness, referred to as Pupil C, told the hearing that Pupil B told her she had done "everything" with her boyfriend, later admitting it was Richardson.

Chairman of the panel Mark Tweedle said: "The panel considered it is plain that sexual conversations took place between Pupil B and Mr Richardson, and they contained explicit references to sexual acts between them.

"On the balance of probabilities, the panel considered that Mr Richardson's behaviour towards Pupil B was sexually motivated."

He added: "In light of this, the panel has determined that Mr Richardson's purpose for such communications cannot be anything other than motivated by sex. The panel is satisfied that the conduct of Mr Richardson fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession."

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said of the arrest in 2014: "A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a child and the sexual grooming of a child.

"A full investigation was conducted by the Greater Manchester Police public protection investigation unit and the man was released without charge."