A substitute teacher who had sex with her 16-year-old student has been jailed for 12 months.
The woman, who was aged 23 at the time, waited until the boy’s sixteenth birthday before they had sex because she believed that was the legal age of consent.
The 25-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her victim, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of defilement in early 2018.
The victim was in his fifth year in a north Dublin secondary school when the woman started working there as a substitute teaching English.
The court heard she came over and hugged him after he saw her in a local nightclub and waved. From that night they began to communicate via Snapchat.
On the boy’s 16th birthday, the teacher drove him to Gormanston Beach. She gave him birthday presents including a jumper, aftershave, highlighters and pens.
They began to kiss in the car before the matter progressed into sexual activity. The pair went on to engage in sexual intercourse.
On the day before Valentine’s Day, while the boy was on a mid-term break, the teacher drove him to the Carlton Hotel in Tyrellstown where there was a room booked in her name.
They slept together in the hotel room that night and she dropped him home the next morning. The boy told his parents that he had stayed in a friend’s house.
The boy believed the two were in a relationship and the teacher was concerned about people finding out as she would not be able to teach again, the court heard.
The boy’s mother was aware her son was in a relationship with a girl bearing the teacher’s name, but was unaware this person was his teacher.
After being contacted about her son’s erratic school attendance, she contacted the school’s principal and discovered the woman’s identity at which point the teacher’s contract was terminated.
In his victim impact statement, the boy said he had developed serious life threatening anxiety and depression.
He said it followed him around like “a little black cloud” and that sometimes it felt like the cloud was shaped like a barking dog.
Judge Nolan said the case was aggravated by the woman being the victim’s teacher at the time. He said she was in a position of authority and trust which she abused.
He said that, as a teacher, she should have known the age of consent, adding that it was “completely unethical and immoral” for a teacher to have sexual relations with a student.
He sentenced her to three years imprisonment with two suspended on condition she keep the peace and be of good behavior in custody and for two years post release.
The woman, who has no previous convictions, cried throughout the sentence hearing.