06/03/2013 04:49 GMT

Teacher Michael Pooley Jailed For Sexual Affair With Underage Pupil

A science teacher who had a sexual affair with a 15-year-old pupil and discussed marriage plans with her has been jailed as an example to others.

Michael Pooley, 35, was sent to prison for 18 months after the presiding judge said he needed to send a warning to any others in his profession "thinking of behaving in this way".

Judge Alan Goldsack QC, who told the teacher: "Parents are entitled to expect when their children leave home to go to school that they are going to be safe and teachers will protect rather than abuse them."

Judge Goldsack heard how a mutual relationship developed between Pooley and a girl, who is now 17 years old and cannot be named, at a secondary school in West Yorkshire.

He was told how this started with the girl having a crush on the teacher and they began to see each other out of school, eventually going on trips together and staying in a hotel.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how the pair communicated using Facebook and Pooley even set up two fake accounts on the social media site so the girl's parents would not spot he was talking to their daughter.

Judge Goldsack told Pooley: "You had regular contact by Facebook - a social media which certainly those that sit in court regard as more harmful than helpful."

The court heard that despite the defendant admitting touching the girl sexually, there was no penetrative sex between them and Pooley had continually dismissed the teenager's requests for him to "take her virginity".

He told the girl he wanted to wait until she was 16-years-old, the judge was told.

Pooley, of Miles Hill Terrace, Potternewton, Leeds - who stood in the dock wearing a dark suit, grey shirt and a grey striped tie - admitted seven counts of sexual activity with a child and two counts of child abduction at a previous hearing.

Pooley took the girl on a trip to Liverpool, where they toured tourist locations associated with The Beatles and kissed, the court heard.

The judge was told how the defendant and the girl shared a love of The Beatles and one of the many presents he gave her was an autograph signed by the band's legendary producer, George Martin.

On another occasion, the pair stayed in a Travelodge in Sheffield, the court was told.

The teenager told police: "We went from close friends to almost best friends but we were falling in love at the same time."

The girl also described to officers how they had talked about marriage and children.

Laura Marshall, prosecuting, told the court: "She (the girl) was clear throughout she had told the defendant she wanted him to take her virginity.

"He told her it was a bad idea."

Marshall said: "It was clear that throughout the relationship the defendant told her how much he loved her and that was reciprocated."

The prosecutor added: "It is clear from the messages it was very much a mutual relationship."

She said the relationship lasted for a period between June and October 2011, including during the school holidays.

The judge was told the girl has suffered medical and emotional problems since the affair was discovered and the defendant was suspended from his job.

He said she did not want to make a victim impact statement but her father's impact statement was read to the court.

He described how he had been left on anti-depressants and unemployed due to the emotional turmoil the relationship had caused.

The girl's father said: "We hate the fact that despite counselling, drugs and anti-depressants and the wisdom and advice of family she still has feelings for the defendant."

He said the events had "poisoned family life and health" and there was an "air of bereavement" in his house.

The girl's headteacher described her as a "bright and highly articulate pupil", the judge was told.

Andrew Walker, defending, said his client was not in any way a sexual predator.

Instead, he said, Pooley was "weak-willed and foolish in the extreme".

He said the teacher had "genuine affection towards the girl" and had lost everything because of what he had done.

Walker pleaded with the judge to suspend any prison sentence but Judge Goldsack disagreed.

He told Pooley: "A very few teachers who may be thinking of behaving in this way need to be aware of what the consequences may be."

He added: "These offences represent a massive breach of trust.

Pooley was told his name will be added to the sex offenders register and he will be barred from working with children indefinitely.