Teacher was ‘in love’ with pupil - court hears

Bernadette Smith says she was "in love" with a pupil in her care
Bernadette Smith says she was "in love" with a pupil in her care
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HISTORY teacher, Bernadette Smith, who had an affair with one of her pupils told police and colleagues she was “in love” with the schoolboy, a court heard today.

Married teacher Bernadette Smith had an affair with “vulnerable” 16 year old Gary Ralston, who she had taught and tutored after school.

The affair started in Smith’s classroom at Bannockburn High School, Stirling, where she confessed her feelings to Gary, before the pair then went to a nearby park and had their first kiss.

However Gary’s gran found out about the affair and told the school, who then suspended Smith, on 19 September.

But that night the mother-of-three visited the house Gary shared with his dad, Richard, where the pair spent the night together in Gary’s bed. She later told police that she had told Mr Ralston about her feelings for his son.

The teacher appeared in Stirling Sheriff Court today taken in to the court building, under a blanket, in a car which was driven straight into the garage normally reserved for G4S custody vans.

Wearing a slim maroon dress with a black cardigan and with her mother there in support, the history and English teacher entered the dock, speaking to confirm her name.

Depute fiscal, Ann Orr, then told the court, that the sixth year pupil was “regarded as vulnerable” at the school.

She said that Smith had originally denied that physical contact had occurred between the pair when she was interviewed by headmaster Tom Black on the 19 September, but confirmed they had met twice outside school.

But when he interviewed Gary he confirmed the pair had kissed.

Mrs Orr said that the school informed the police, who began enquiries.

She said: “In the enquiries it seems to have been established that on the September 19 Smith had gone home at lunch and a colleague sent her a text asking if she was ok.

“She replied saying ‘a lot had happened.’ She sent another saying she was going to leave her husband, she had never got over that he had previously been unfaithful and she had fallen in love with this pupil.

“The colleague received two more text messages, in which Smith said she couldn’t leave him [Gary], that they wanted to be together and she had stayed at his house the previous night.”

Family problems

The fiscal told the court that Smith was detained by police after she arrived at the Ralston’s house while they were interviewing Gary.

Mrs Orr said: “In the course of her interview with police she confirmed she had known the boy since he began at the school.

“She said she knew of the problems in his family life.

“She said he was a caring boy who found it difficult to trust people. She admitted she met him on two occasions outside school and kissed him on the mouth and neck.

“She also admitted meeting at his home and told his father about her feelings and she stayed over night in the boy’s bedroom and that she had been wearing her jeans and a bra.

“She said during the interview that she loved the boy and they both wanted to be together.”

The fiscal said that during Gary’s interview his feelings for her “were some what less clear.”

Smith, of Gill Park, Denny, Stirlingshire, admitted a single charge that between September 13 and 20 [2013] at a house in Cowie, Stirlingshire, and at Callendar Park, Falkirk, that while being a person over 18 who was in a position of trust, namely that she was the boy’s teacher, she did engage in sexual activity with or directed towards the pupil, kissed him on the mouth and neck, and lay beside him on the bed while partially clothed.

Her solicitor, Andrew Gibb, solicitor for the teachers’ union the Educational Institute of Scotland, said that he was asking for psychiatric reports to be carried out before sentencing.

He said: “She has lost her career. She can’t any longer remain as a registered teacher.

“Mrs Smith for some bizarre reason had feelings for him. She was the one who was responsible for this, he was in no way to blame.”

Deferring for a criminal justice social work report, Sheriff William Gilchrist said: “Your bail will continue which includes the special condition of no contact with the boy.”

After Smith admitted the charge last month, Gary said that he didn’t know how the affair had happened, but said that before it, she was always his favourite teacher.

He said: “I was thinking I was quite lucky. A lot of the boys fancied her. I couldn’t believe she was with me.

“It was the last thing I expected. She said she thought she was going crazy but couldn’t help the way she was feeling.”