Sex case teacher jailed for five years

Ian ClarkeA high school science teacher who 'preyed on innocent girls for his own sexual gratification' was today jailed for five years.Ian Clarke

A high school science teacher who 'preyed on innocent girls for his own sexual gratification' was today jailed for five years.

Brett Meeds, 28, was a 'talented' teacher at Northgate High School in Dereham and the town's sixth form centre between 2005 and 2009 but was guilty of a 'grave breach of trust' by starting sexual relationships with three girls - one was 15 and two were 16.

The abuse went on from late last year to early this year.

He groomed the girls and relationships developed.

At Norwich Crown Court, Meeds, of Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, was jailed for a total of five years after admitting a total of nine offences.

Two were of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl, five were of sexual activity with girls which breached his position of trust and two of possessing indecent photographs of girls.

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Judge Simon Barham told Meeds if he had not pleaded guilty and had been convicted after a trial, he would have been jailed for seven and a half years.

Det Supt Chris Hobley, of Norfolk Police, said: 'He took advantage of them and exploited them.'

'These were very serious offences committed against teenage children. Mr Meeds took advantage of his position and abused the trust of the victims, parents, his colleagues and employers.

'The victims have been brave by coming forward and we hope they can now move on positively with their lives.'

Sue Wheeler, acting head of Northgate High School, said: "I cannot voice strongly enough just how disgusted we are by what Brett Meeds did.

"We employed him in good faith, with him having passed enhanced criminal records checks and coming to us out of training with appropriate references from his placements, and he thoroughly exploited the position of trust he was placed in.

"The school has worked closely to assist children's services and the police during their extensive investigation, and I would like to thank them for the support structure they helped to put in place for our pupils and parents.

"I also want to pay tribute to the young people who have helped bring Meeds to justice. He has quite rightly been sent to jail and will not go on to be a teacher anywhere else."

Meera Spillett, deputy director of children's services, said: "I am pleased to see that justice has been done today with the Judge handing down a significant prison sentence for Brett Meeds. I am relieved that his victims and their families have not had to go through the additional trauma of a trial and hope that, in time, they will be able to recover from their dreadful experiences.

"I hope that today's sentencing will remind anyone working with children or young people that they hold a unique position of trust and that they will be held to account if they breach that trust in anyway.

"Meeds was guilty of an appalling abuse of trust. He has not only lost his freedom for that, but will rightly never be able to work with children and young people again.

"This verdict is ultimately testament to the courage of the young people who came forward to help bring Meeds to justice."

Prosecuting lawyer Lorraine Irwin said: 'Meeds was in a position of trust as a teacher and abused this trust and preyed on these innocent girls for his own sexual gratification.

'The victims in this case have been have been through a terrible ordeal and in these very difficult circumstances have been very brave in coming forward.

'We hope they can now begin to move on positively with their lives and we are glad that this case has reached a successful conclusion.'

Matthew Gowen, mitigating, said Meeds was a man of previous good character who was a talented teacher and 'appreciated the gravity of his breach of trust.'

Meeds was also disqualified from working with children indefinitely.