A teacher from Pendle who had sex with a 17-year-old pupil after exchanging a series of text messages has walked free from court.
Former physics teacher Gareth Aspey (29) slept with the girl three times while he was working at Skipton Girls’ High School and his career now lies in tatters.
Bradford Crown Court heard on Wednesday how Aspey, who was struck off by the school after word got out about the relationship, had given his number to pupils at the school when he took them on a trip.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began to text the teacher about problems she was having and the two began to get closer over the course of the messages.
Michael Smith (prosecuting) told the court: “The texts got more jokey and personal. Just before the end of term she was house-sitting for a relative, meaning she was alone in the house.”
The court heard how the girl sent messages to her teacher, who eventually came over and stayed the night, although the two did not have sex at this point.
Mr Smith said: “They continued to stay in touch, and the texts became more suggestive and personal.
“She invited him over again, asking him to come later in the evening so that he would be alone.
“They went to bed and had consensual sex.”
Aspey, from Colne, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, admitted the offences of sexual activity while in a position of trust, which took place between December, 2012, and July, 2013.
The ex-teacher also admitted to two further occasions when he breached his position of trust, one of which was on a school night in February last year, when he dropped the girl off away from the school in the morning to avoid pupils seeing them together.
Mr Smith added he admitted sexual activity with the girl.
Sentencing Aspey, Judge Peter Benson said: “You were in a position of trust and you knew, as you were a qualified teacher, that there are boundaries between pupils and teachers.
“It is clear she does not feel manipulated or groomed, but that is not really the point.
“She was in your care and you had a duty to protect her.”
In a statement read out by the judge, the girl said she had “no regrets” about the relationship, adding: “Gareth was a popular, well liked and respected teacher.
“I took the opportunity to contact him on a regular basis – he did not pursue me”.
Clare Ashcroft, for Aspey, said her client had serious depression and had “struggled with his emotions” following his cancer diagnosis.
Judge Benson referred to the teacher’s cancer and depression as “exceptional circumstances” and handed him a 12-month suspended sentence.
The teacher was also told he would have to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years.