A SCHOOL teacher who bombarded his 15-year-old pupil with 218 "highly inappropriate" messages has been sentenced to three years in jail.
The father of four (61), who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual exploitation and four of the defilement of the girl in relation to events that occurred over a period of six weeks between September and November 2009.
The incidents took place in a bedroom at the home of the married man, as well as behind a press in a classroom in the Co Clare school where he worked and the schoolgirl studied, and in other rooms in the school.
Judge Carroll Moran, who was presiding over the case at Ennis Circuit Court, said yesterday that the accused was guilty of "a serious breach of trust by a teacher, a person of authority against a 15-year-old girl".
He said that the messages the teenager received had "revealed highly inappropriate and sexual explicit contents".
In addition to the evidence provided by the text messages, CCTV footage corroborated statements that the victim provided to gardai.
In one of the incidents that occurred in late 2009, the accused ejaculated and DNA analysis showed that his DNA matched that of the resulting stain.
The former secondary school teacher was arrested in November 2009 and charged of 14 separate sexual offences after the girl told her parents what had happened. She also contacted the school authorities.
Judge Moran said yesterday that there had been no coercion or threat of violence when the offences were carried out, and that the accused pleaded guilty at the earlier opportunity.
Det Sgt Michael Moloney said at the sentence hearing last July, that the accused had expressed remorse for his actions during an interview with gardai.
"I am deeply sorry. I was in a position of trust and I should have stopped it," the man said at the time.
Gardai believed his regret to be sincere and a report from a consultant psychologist said that it was highly unlikely that he would reoffend in the future.
Judge Moran said that the man suffered severe disgrace in his community.
However, he added that the accused had been aware of the girl's age because she was one of his pupils and that the offences were serious and that they would have consequences on her later life.
"I must impose a prison sentence due to the very serious nature of the offences, notwithstanding the mitigating factors," he said.
The accused was forced to retire in March 2011, Judge Moran said that his name would be placed on the sex offender's register and he refused a request from the defence to suspend a portion of the sentence.