'Highly-regarded' teacher jailed for 13 years after admitting to child sexual abuse
'What makes this case even more concerning is the fact that Julie Morris held a position of trust as a teacher'
Parents at a school in Wigan have described their “total shock” after one of the teachers there who was “highly regarded” was jailed for 13 years after admitting to 18 child sexual abuse offences, including two counts of rape.
It was like primary school deputy head-teacher Julie Morris had a “split personality”, one parent said, as details emerged of how the 44-year-old and her partner giggled as they molested a young girl.
Morris and David Morris (52), who were not married despite sharing the same name, filmed themselves abusing and raping a child under the age of 13 in a series of videos.
They then attempted to evade police by fleeing to the Lake District in a campervan, however, when they were caught, David was jailed for 16 years after earlier pleading guilty to 34 charges.
Julie Morris admitted to two counts of rape, nine of inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity, and two of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
A court heard how Julie and David began sharing their “graphic and depraved” fantasies after they met on Plenty of Fish when Julie's relationship with her husband of 15 years broke down due to him being unfaithful.
Julie had sent photographs of children at her school to David, although police said these were not indecent, or criminal in nature, and there is no evidence that any of the children were harmed. None of the offences she has been jailed for relate to the school.
However, their fantasies became “sordid” reality when they set up a group chat with the victim, which they used to discuss how they planned to abuse “their little plaything”.
In a police interview, Julie admitted abusing the victim but claimed she (the victim) had wanted to take part. Judge Andrew Menary said: “That last statement is breathtaking in its inappropriateness.”
“Every now and again you see cases, the circumstances of which are almost beyond belief,” her added. “This is one of those cases. It demonstrates that human depravity really knows no depths.”
John Wyn Williams, prosecuting, said the couple met on the dating app in 2016 after both had separated from their partners and the relationship “quickly became intensely sexual”.
“The communication between them became graphic and depraved which led to some of their sexual fantasies becoming a reality,” he said.
Mr Wyn Williams said the couple's “sordid secret” was revealed when police acting on a search warrant raided David's address on Sandfield Road, Eccleston, St Helens, on September 2.
They discovered a conversation about the sexual abuse of children involving David in a phone seized during the raid that also saw his computer and other digital equipment taken.
He was arrested but cautioned and released. The following day, Mr Wyn Williams said, both defendants were arrested as they appeared to be trying to evade police.
“They were on their way to the Lake District in a camper van with £10,000 in their possession,” he told the court.
As well as videos and images on David Morris's phone, officers trawled through 175,000 pages of messages between the couple, revealing sexually explicit communications.
Paul Becker, defending Julie Morris, said she had "lost everything in life", including her reputation, career and home.
He said: "She was held in high regard prior to her offending."
He said that when she met David Morris she was at a "low ebb" after she discovered her husband of 15 years had been unfaithful.
In interview, Julie Morris admitted the offences but claimed the victim had wanted to take part.
Charles Lander, defending David Morris, said he had showed genuine remorse and was "under no illusions" that he would be going to prison for a long time.
He said the couple's "toxic relationship" had come to an end.
Mairead Neeson, senior prosecutor at the CPS, said the case was one of the worst she had seen in her career, adding: "The descriptions of what they did are so horrific that when I finished reading them. I burst into tears.
"It's a young child whose innocence has been stolen."
Julie had worked at St George's Central Church of England Primary School for 10 years.
Parents were told of the initial reports of her offences last month in a letter from the headteacher Mark Grogan.
He said: "It is important to emphasise that the charges in relation to the alleged offences are not connected with our school."
The head added that he realised that it "will come as a shock for everyone within the school community."
Reacting to the news at the time, one parent said: "She seemed lovely at school. It's a shock."
Detective Chief Inspector Bev Hyland said: "These extremely serious offences committed by Julie and David Morris have had a devastating impact on the victims and their families.
"The defendants were fully aware of their actions when committing these deplorable offences and we welcome the lengthy sentences of 16 years, and 13 years given out by the court today.
"I hope that some comfort can now be taken now that the defendants will be spending a significant amount of time in prison and can no longer cause any further harm to children.
"I would like to thank the detectives on the investigation team who have worked tirelessly to gather the evidence to bring Julie and David Morris to justice.
"What makes this case even more concerning is the fact that Julie Morris held a position of trust as a teacher, she held the role of safeguarding lead, and yet she saw fit in her own personal life to completely disregard all of the responsibilities and the trust that her role held.
"The significant sentence today is testament to our team's commitment and dedication to get justice for the defendants' victims.
"It further shows that Merseyside Police are completely committed to protecting children from sexual abuse and those who seek to do them harm."
He added: "We would urge any child, or young person who is a victim of sexual abuse, or anyone who knows of a child being abused, to come forward and report this to police.
"We have a specialist team committed to dealing with all forms of child abuse, who will treat any information from you extremely seriously, and will follow up every report and any information that comes in.
"Merseyside Police wish to thank members of the public who showed great courage in providing information which was key to Merseyside Police convicting Julie and David Morris."
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