Newport teacher who slept with pupil spared jail
A TEACHER from Newport who developed a "loving" relationship with a pupil she whisked away on a teacher training weekend paid for by the school, has been spared jail but barred from working with children again.
Kelly Ann-Marie Burgess, 26, of Grosmont Way, pleaded guilty to four sexual offences of abuse of position of trust by engaging in sexual activity with a child.
Appearing before Bristol Crown Court today, Burgess sobbed as she entered the dock, while her family looked on from the public gallery.
The offences, spanning a period from January 1, 2013 to August 28, 2013, concern a sexual relationship Burgess had with a pupil aged under 18, who she was teaching at the school where she worked.
The court heard how the relationship took place over seven months, but was revealed after a trip to a sexual health clinic in Cwmbran.
Prosecutor Sam Jones told the court how Burgess had driven the pupil to the clinic concerned he may have a sexually-transmitted infection after she had displayed symptoms of an STI.
It was here, Mr Jones said, the pupil disclosed to the nurse that he was having a sexual relationship with his teacher he named as Kelly Burgess. The nurse was obliged to refer this to social services.
More than 1,200 text messages between the pair were found on Burgess's phone which according to Mr Jones, included "sexually explicit" content.
Police also recovered a series of images including naked pictures of the pupil sent by him to Burgess via the social media application Snapchat. Burgess had created screen-shots of the images which were then stored on her phone.
Police spoke to members of staff at the school, some of whom said there had been concerns raised over the closeness between Burgess and students, especially with regard to social media. There had also been rumours in the school about Burgess' relationship with this pupil.
The court heard how the pair went away together on two separate occasions. In January 2013, the pupil accompanied Burgess on a teacher training weekend. There, the pupil stayed in the hotel Burgess was staying in, paid for by the school as part of the training course.
The two went away again in July 2013 on a camping weekend. Burgess accepted sexual activity took place during both these trips.
Burgess was arrested on August 28, 2013. On route to the police station, Burgess received a text message from the pupil which read: "Just get the story straight for when they come for you."
In a second police interview, Burgess admitted to seeing the pupil at least once a week outside of school, where sexual activity would take place.
Burgess told police it was a "loving" relationship and that they were "equal partners".
No witness statement was given by the pupil.
Mr Jones said: "He did not want to cooperate with the prosecution."
In mitigation, Raymond Tulley said his client was of prior "exemplar good character" with no previous convictions.
The court heard how the relationship evolved mutually without pressure from Burgess.
Mr Tulley said: "It would not be fair to cast Burgess as an older predator grooming her young prey.
"She was not a vamp, a cougar or anything of the kind. She was woman who fell in love with the wrong young man."
The court heard how she had been on anti-depressants during the beginning of the relationship following a series of family tragedies.
Mr Tulley said: "She already suffers the loss of her career and has to deal with the shame and humiliation of the situation she finds herself in."
Sentencing, Judge Euan Ambrose said he did not accept the relationship was among equals, but did accept it was entered freely.
He said: "You were at all times a teacher and he was a pupil.
"You are deeply remorseful. You have wept almost throughout these proceedings."
He said her hard work studying and training was now "all for nothing".
Burgess was sentenced to ten months for each count, to be served concurrently and suspended for two years. She was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
She has been added to the sex offenders register and automatically barred from working with young adults or children.