Private school teacher, 44, spared jail for sexually abusing autistic teen pupil after grooming her on social media | The Sun

Private school teacher, 44, spared jail for sexually abusing autistic teen pupil after grooming her on social media | The Sun

A PRIVATE school teacher has been spared jail after sexually abusing an autistic teen pupil.

Ian Featherstone, 44, groomed the student on social media before the pair started exchanging intimate pictures and sleeping together.

Derby Crown Court heard how Featherstone, who was married with two kids, did not use a condom to have sex with the teenager.

In an attempt to hide his illegal activity, the teacher at Abbotsholme School, Derbyshire, told the schoolgirl not to keep his contact details on her phone.

However, the relationship was exposed when the girl spoke to another teacher about what was happening.

Featherstone, who admitted he "gave into temptation", was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.


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Sentencing, Judge Shaun Smith KC 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.

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"There is absolutely no excuse for it, she was suffering from autism, she was on the spectrum."

Julian Lynch, prosecuting, said Featherstone worked as a teacher at Abbotsholme School where the victim was a student.

He said: "[Featherstone] 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 has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.

He now lives at his parent's address in Busby, Leicester.

Laura Coton, mitigating, said Featherstone's parents were in court to support their son.

She also said his pre-sentence report found he was at low risk of reoffending, reports DerbyshireLive.

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."

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Featherstone was given a six-month curfew between the hours of 7pm and 5am and ordered to attend a 45-day sex offender awareness programme.

The disgraced teacher much also go to 55 rehabilitation sessions, carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and sign the sex offender register for 10 years.

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