A 61-YEAR-OLD former secondary school teacher was yesterday jailed for three years over 14 separate sexual offences against a 15-year-old female pupil two years ago.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Carroll Moran said the accused -- who cannot be named for legal reasons -- was guilty of "a serious breach of trust by a teacher, a person of authority against a 15-year-old girl".
The married father of four admitted 10 counts of the sexual exploitation and four of the defilement of the girl, in relation to 11 of the 14 charges, over a six-week period between September and November 2009.
The judge said that most of the offences took place behind a press in a classroom in the Co Clare school where the two worked and studied, other rooms in the school and one in a bedroom at the teacher's home.
DNA analysis of samples left during one of the incidents matched the accused man's DNA, with CCTV footage also corroborating statements the victim provided to gardai.
In addition, gardai retrieved 218 text messages the accused sent to the girl and Judge Moran said "they revealed highly inappropriate and sexual explicit contents".
At a previous hearing Detective Sergeant Michael Moloney said the accused had told gardai when interviewed about the offences: "I am deeply sorry. I was in a position of trust and I should have stopped it." Det Sgt Moloney said the girl informed her parents in November 2009 of what had occurred and they complained to the school authorities.
The judge said the man had suffered severe disgrace in his community and was forced to retire from his teaching post in March this year.
He added that the accused pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and that there had been no coercion or threat of violence in carrying out the offences.
Gardai believed the man's remorse was genuine and the consultant psychologist's report believed he was highly unlikely to re-offend.
However, Judge Moran said the man was always aware of the girl's age and had to be because she was one of his pupils and the offences were serious.
He said the man's name would be placed on the sex offenders' register and he refused a request from counsel Michael Collins to suspend a portion of the sentence.