Girl, 13, 'groomed' with email and texts

A TEACHING assistant who groomed a 13-year-old schoolgirl with e-mail and text messages before having sex with her has been jailed for three years.Jamie Gunn is one of the first people in the country to be sentenced under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, introduced by the government to offer more protection to children.

A TEACHING assistant who groomed a 13-year-old schoolgirl with e-mail and text messages before having sex with her has been jailed for three years.

Jamie Gunn is one of the first people in the country to be sentenced under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, introduced by the government to offer more protection to children.

Gunn, of Parr Road, in Haverhill, admitted a range of charges when he appeared at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday .

The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual grooming and five counts of sexual activity with a child.


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The court heard that he and the victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were in a genuine relationship and had consensual sex – but he told the girl it was “our secret”.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, said Gunn worked in computer maintenance before being hired to assist with IT at a middle school in the Haverhill area on a freelance basis.

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While the school did carry out a criminal background check on him, they did not ask for references, nor were any provided.

“At times he was akin to being a teacher,” Mr Sadd added. “There were occasions where children called him sir. It appears that he developed into being a teaching assistant.”

He also helped light and produce the school play.

When he first met his teenage victim, she was a virgin, the court heard.

“This started by her initiating contact with him,” Mr Sadd said. “He did not seek her out.

“Nonetheless, it is our case that once communication started there was grooming which led to a meeting with the intention of a sexual act.”

The pair began their relationship through mobile phone text messages and messaging on the computer, the results of which were analysed by police.

“It's right that she started it but it is right that he continued it and, although she was willing, he was as well,” Mr Sadd said.

“As the adult in the relationship, knowing that she was a child, he encouraged her.”

Over the course of a few weeks the pair texted and mailed each other – described as “graphic” by Mr Sadd – which included the use of a webcam by Gunn to show the girl his boxer shorts and her to show him a view down her top.

He also messaged the girl about masturbation, her breast size, sexual positions and told her he wanted to sleep with her – although he said he wouldn't “force the issue”.

Their relationship was eventually uncovered when the girl's mother spotted something on a computer which the victim had failed to delete, despite Gunn asking her to do so.

Mitigating, Roger Harrison said that Gunn told police he had “no excuses” and had made a “stupid mistake”.

“He said initially they were perfectly innocent messages,” Mr Harrison added. “He found what she had to say about things was interesting. They were fond of each other.

“The girl stated that she fancied him and they decided to take it further. They got on well together, there were intelligent conversations, reciprocal feelings and they met.

Mr Harrison said Gunn – who is now in a relationship with a 16-year-old girl – did not think he had any “paedophilic tendencies”.

He added: “There was fondness, there was a relationship and there was passion. He realised after it had occurred that he had done wrong.

“He is young, energetic and has dealt with this (legal process) in an exemplary way. He has had a relationship where there was genuine affection with a young lady who wanted that relationship.”

Jailing Gunn, Judge John Holt said: “You came into contact with this pupil and I'm quite satisfied that you were in a position of trust and you exploited that position.

“The grooming is shown in graphic detail and I regard the detail of that as an aggravating feature. I also note that early in the log you hope that she deletes the chat logs, which implies to me that you knew you were in the wrong.

“The log also reveals that you knew she was a virgin. I want this to be made clear. This girl was in no way to blame for what happened – what happened was entirely your responsibility.”

Gunn, who showed no emotion as he was jailed, was also made to forfeit his phone and computer, banned from working with children and told to sign the sex offender's register.

After the hearing, Tom Scherb, Western Area Education Manager at Suffolk County Council told the EADT of the authority's “alarm” when the story came to light.

He added: “Mr Gunn was contracted by the school through an agency to supply ICT support at a middle school in the Haverhill area. 

“Obviously the LEA and school were alarmed when these allegations came to light and co-operated fully with the police investigation. 

“He has not been working in the school during this time, and following this court sentence we will of course report his conduct to the relevant authorities, as he is now banned from working with children and young people.”

And Detective Sergeant Adi Randall, of Suffolk police, said: “The Force's new Hi Tech crime unit utilised the latest technology to gather the evidence necessary to secure a successful prosecution.”

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