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Teacher, 65, who groomed 16-year-old girl in extra maths lessons jailed for just one year after admitting they had sex

An elderly teacher who admitted having having sex with a 16-year-old schoolgirl was jailed for 12 months today.

Vernon Birch, 65, took the girl to his home for sex on three occasions.

The pair got to know each other during extra maths ‘booster’ lessons began going for coffee and holding hands in around September of last year.

Their relationship progressed to ‘passionate kissing’ and eventually he invited her to his house in Raynes Park, south-west London, where they had ‘full sex’.

The illicit affair was exposed in January after the teenager’s mother became suspicious and read two explicit text messages he sent her.

Inner London Crown CourtBreach of trust: Vernon Birch admitted having sex with a teenage schoolgirl and was jailed for a year at Inner London Crown Court (above)

Inner London Crown Court heard though the girl consented, she now regrets what happened.

Birch admitted having sexual activity with a child in breach of trust while working at the south London school.

Judge Robert Fraser said: ‘You abused your position and gave no thought to the pressure you were putting her under.

‘However, there’s no evidence to suggest you are a further risk to children. This case is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.’ 

Inner London Crown Court heard the pair first met when the girl was put in detention at her school in south London and Birch was supervising.

Spotting she showed promise in maths, he volunteered to give her booster lessons in the subject. 

By September 2008, they were going for coffee together and holding hands. Soon, they were kissing and eventually he took the teenager home and slept with her.

The pair had two more sexual liaisons before the girl’s mother stumbled across two text messages from the teacher in January and she confessed everything.

Sarah Le Foe, prosecuting, told the court the girl – who cannot be named for legal reasons – had found Birch ‘easy to talk to’. 

‘She began to just chat with the defendant. After detention; it seems the complainant showed some promise in mathematics. Mr Birch prescribed maths booster lessons and he would supervise her,’ she said.

‘She would attend and stay late after school, and he would drive her home. It appears that on some occasions there would be another friend of hers present and he would drive them both home.

‘They began to go for coffee and that escalated to perhaps going for something to eat, quite often with the friend.’  

The girl told police: ‘After school we just used to hold hands and talk about our day.’  

In November 2008, Birch drove the schoolgirl home and held her hands when she complained she was cold, the court heard.

He then put his hand on her leg, Miss Le Foe said. ‘She thought this was completely natural.’  The girl told police she then moved his hand on to her chest.

The prosecutor went on: ‘He kissed her on the lips as she got out of the car. After that more intimate contact became a regular occurrence, it would be hand holding and passionate kissing.’  

In December, she phoned Birch and was invited to his house where he said he needed to wait in for the gas man and they ended up having sex.

They met up again over Christmas and again went to the teacher’s home, where they slept together in the living room. 

‘He told her it was a very natural thing to have intercourse and not to worry about it,’ Miss Le Foe told the court.

They had sex one more time, in January, and had talked about the relationship becoming ‘serious’ when they were caught.

The schoolgirl’s mother became suspicious when she started coming home late from school and wondered if she was in a relationship.

When the girl could not find her phone, the mother located it and saw two text messages from Birch. Her daughter then told her everything.

The court was told the teacher is ‘utterly remorseful’ and has an ‘impeccable good character’.

He claims his decision-making may have been affected by ’emotional turmoil’ following the death of his father.

The court heard there was no question of him grooming the pupil and that there had been genuine feelings on both sides. 

But the teacher accepted he should have stopped the relationship going any further.

Although there was no question of him grooming the public and there were genuine feelings on both sides, he accepted he should have stopped the relationship going any further.

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