A TEACHER at a Warwick school began having sex with a pupil, even returning from a holiday with his wife to see her, after previously trying to seduce another girl.
Even though the girls were both 16 at the time, disgraced Richard Ackland was still acting illegally because of his position of trust at their school.
And at Warwick Crown Court, the 43-year-old from Kenilworth, was jailed for two years and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.
He had pleaded guilty on the day of his trial to inciting one girl to engage in sexual activity, and sexual activity with the other girl, both while in a position of trust as a teacher.
Judge Anthony Potter told him he had exploited both girls ‘for your own selfish ends.’
Prosecutor Angus Robertson said Ackland had been a teacher at a school in Warwick for some time, and had become head of the computer science department.
On starting work at the school he had been made aware of child protection and safeguarding issues and the school’s own code of conduct in relation to teachers and pupils.
But his conversations with one 16-year-old when she was on her own became increasingly personal, and she began to confide in him and tell him about personal difficulties.
The conversations later turned sexual and Ackland then began sending her Facebook messages in which he said he wanted to have sex with her, making similar remarks directly to her at school.
He also took opportunities to touch her and on one occasion tried to kiss her.
Ackland, who once took her hand and made her touch him over his trousers, kept trying to persuade her to meet him outside school to have sex in his car, but she refused.
Some time later, after that girl had left the school, he targeted another 16-year-old after seeing her crying in a classroom and comforting her.
Ignoring advice he was given to maintain a professional distance, he invited her out for a drink, when he kissed her on the lips, and she began to meet him after school.
He sent her messages detailing sexual acts he wanted them to engage in, and took her to a hotel at a service station on the M40 where they had sex.
After that, they met for sex a number of times, either at a hotel or a caravan he had in a field.
And on one occasion when Ackland, who was married with three children, was on holiday with his family, he flew home for a day to see her, taking her to his home where they again had sex.
When he was arrested after the offences came to light, he denied any sexual activity with either girl, maintaining his denials right up until the day of his trial, added Mr Robertson.
The first girl said she had finally come forward after learning Ackland had left the school but was being advertised as a supply teacher, adding she felt guilty towards his second victim.
The second girl said she was angry and that Ackland had “ruined so much of my life”.
Paul Dhami, defending, said psychiatric and pre-sentence reports indicated Ackland had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in around 2012.
“This is a man of previous good character who was married with children who had committed himself to the teaching profession and found himself committing offences which were completely out of character.
“He accepts the way he conducted himself in relation to both complainants was entirely unacceptable.”
Mr Dhami added Ackland and his wife were divorced as a result of the proceedings, although she continued to be supportive of him, and he had been working to set up his own IT business.
Jailing Ackland, Judge Potter told him: “You were there to nurture and grow the potential of young people.
“One of the most aggravating features is that you were to learn that they both had particular vulnerabilities which you did nothing to help them with but exploited for your own selfish ends.
“It was deliberate grooming behaviour. This was not in any sense a teacher being stalked by a pupil he found hard to resist, but quite the opposite, you were exploiting a young girl.”
Following the sentencing Det Ch Insp Jon Belcher said: “We welcome the conviction and sentence and I hope it will offer some comfort to the victims who were manipulated by Ackland over a period time.
“During the time of the offences Ackland was in a position of trust as an ICT teacher at the school. The victims have shown great courage in reporting this to us and throughout the investigation.
“I hope this conviction will provide reassurance to other victims of sexual offences, giving them the confidence to report, and the confidence that they will be believed and that police will do everything to bring offenders to justice.
“If anyone has been affected by this case then I encourage them to come forward and make a report to police.”