Married teacher who groomed autistic teenage pupil on social media avoids jail

Married teacher and father-of-two, 44, who groomed autistic teenage pupil on social media before having sex with her avoids jail

  • A Derby teacher was pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child
  • Ian Featherstone, 44, was given a jail sentence suspended for two years
  • Featherstone has been placed on the sex offenders list for 10 years 
  • He is also required to attend a 45-day sex offender awareness programme 

A married teacher has avoided jail after grooming and having sex with one of his teenage students.

Father-of-two, Ian Featherstone, was said to have committed a ‘massive breach of trust’ as he groomed a Derbyshire school student on social media.

The 44-year-old teacher at Abbotsholme School exchanged sexualised messages and intimate photographs with the teenager in addition to having sex with her without a condom, Derby Crown Court heard.

But the relationship was said to be discovered when the victim, who was later diagnosed with autism, confided to a teacher about what was happening.

Ian Featherstone, 44, was given a two year suspended jail time after grooming and having sex with one of his teenage students, , Derby Crown Court heard (pictured)

Ian Featherstone, 44, was given a two year suspended jail time after grooming and having sex with one of his teenage students, , Derby Crown Court heard (pictured)

Julian Lynch, prosecuting at Derby Crown Court, said: ‘He deliberately used a particular social media account because he was still married. The relationship turned physical and he did not use a condom because he’s had a vasectomy, he was clearly aware what he was doing was wrong.

‘He told her not to save any of his contact details and instead she had them on a piece of paper she kept with her phone.’

Featherstone, who now lives at his parents address in Busby, Leicester, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust and has no previous convictions of any kind.

However, Laura Coton, mitigating, said that his pre-sentence report concluded he posed a low risk of reoffending.

She said: ‘He has a 14-year career as a teacher, a career he loved. He has two children with his now ex-wife to whom he was married for 14 years and was in a relationship with for 20 years.

‘They split up as a result of this offending which he described as “a massive mistake he never wants to repeat”. He has lost his career, his marriage and full contact with his children and has lost the respect of his colleagues. He is obviously incredibly embarrassed.’

Judge Shaun Smith, KC, gave Featherstone a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years.

As part of this order, an electronically-monitored curfew will confine Featherstone to his home address each evening between 7pm and 5am.

Featherstone has now been placed on the sex offenders list for 10 years and is required to attend a 45-day sex offender awareness programme as well as 55 rehabilitation sessions with the probation service.

The defendant was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and was placed on the sex offender register for 10 years.

Judge Shaun Smith said: ‘This is a massive breach of trust. You are highly regarded by former students, you have done charity work and you clearly excelled as a teacher. But it was your job as a teacher that led to this offence.

‘There was a huge age disparity between you and what I have read in your (pre-sentence) report in your own words, is that you “gave in to temptation of the attention you were receiving” from her, you turned that around and you groomed her into a relationship. There is absolutely no excuse for it, she was suffering from autism, she was on the spectrum.’

A spokesman for the school reportedly told Derbyshire Live: ‘We are appalled by the actions of this individual. Behaviour like this has no place in a school.’ 

The school also said it ‘acted quickly’ in response to the allegations. 

It added: ‘We are providing all support necessary to any student who requires it and hope that today brings some form of closure for the victim.’

The school also said it ‘acted quickly’ in response to the allegations. 

MailOnline has approached the school for comment.

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