1. ITV Report

School IT worker jailed after engaging in sexual relationship with 15-year-old pupil

A school IT technician groomed an underage pupil to engage in a violent sexual relationship which saw him abuse her on school grounds.

Alex Barnes, 22, persuaded the pupil to engage in sexual activity on the school grounds during school hours as well as in his car and at his home, a court heard.

The relationship – which was discovered after schoolmates of Barnes’ victim became suspicious – started after he became Facebook friends with the 15-year-old pupil and began volunteering for a club she attended.

School staff became concerned about the relationship between Barnes and the girl, who can’t be named for legal reasons, after she confided in friends on a foreign trip.

Despite being suspended from the school after an investigation was launched and being interviewed by police Barnes continued abusing the girl and coerced her into performing a sex act on him.

A sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court on Monday heard Barnes became an assistant IT technician at the school – in the Bridgend area – in February 2017 but the relationship with the girl did not start until the beginning of 2018.

The Crown say the defendant not only encouraged the complainant but also, during the initial investigation and his subsequent statement to police, he continued and escalated the nature of the sexual activity despite being investigated and suspended by the school.

– Prosecutor Lawrence Jones
Barnes was sentenced at Newport Crown Court

A week before his scheduled trial Barnes pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual activity with a child and three counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Defence barrister Owen Williams said his client, of The Green Avenue, Porthcawl, had “emotional instability” and had suffered from emotional problems in the past.

He said Barnes had expressed a willingness to attend sex offender programmes.

Sentencing, Judge Daniel Williams said: “You were in a position of trust which you breached. You persuaded [the pupil] to become your Facebook friend and you decided to talk about sex and your interest to submitting her to submissive sexual activity. You made her believe that what you wanted from her was normal.”

Judge Williams said the defendant posed a “high risk” of harm to children and only an immediate custodial sentence would be appropriate.

He added: “This sort of offending strikes horror into the minds of those who entrust others to look after their children at school.”

Barnes was sentenced to a total of five years imprisonment.

He was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for life.

The defendant was also barred from working with children and was made subject to a restraining order preventing him from contacting his victim.