Teacher jailed after having sex with schoolgirls in classroom cupboard

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A TEACHER at one of Scotland’s leading state schools has been jailed after having sex with two pupils.

Muir McCormick, 39, was yesterday sentenced to 14 months after earlier pleading guilty to engaging in sexual acts with two girls, then aged 16 and 17, while a maths teacher at Bearsden Academy.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard how the father of two had sex with the girls in a cupboard at the school, as well as at the home he shared with his wife.

Sentencing McCormick, Sheriff David Hall said the teacher had committed a “gross breach of trust”, adding that it was “most disturbing” he had not thought it against the law to have a relationship with his pupils.

The former maths teacher had sex with the 16-year-old pupil in a tent in a park, as well as in his classroom cupboard. He also asked her to dress up as an eight-year-old in front of a web cam.

The court heard how he targeted the older girl between August 2007 and May 2008 before preying on the younger pupil several times from December 2008 to May 2009.

He had been suspended when the allegations first came to light, and later resigned.

Sheila McDiarmid, prosecuting, said the 16-year-old girl left school to study elsewhere and disclosed the matter to a member of staff at her hall of residence, then told her family. McCormick had been her maths teacher.

Miss McDiarmid said that months before the first sexual encounter, the girl sent McCormick a note setting out “her feelings” towards him. He reported it to his department head.

Miss McDiarmid said: “Then he unexpectedly offered to help her with maths, and afterwards sent a text stating he found her attractive and arranged to meet her in his classroom.

“He locked the door and they went into a large cupboard. The first time they had sex was in this cupboard. They used to meet there twice a week, and in the library on Mondays.”

The fiscal depute said the teacher had also once met the pupil for sex in a tent in a park in Ardrossan.

Police discovered the relationship with the second girl from phone records, after questioning the 16-year-old.

McCormick and the 17-year-old started to meet in his classroom and in free periods, and would go into the cupboard behind his desk, meeting up to four times a week, at lunchtimes and after school, having sex once a week. McCormick, of Park Gate, Erskine, Renfrew, pleaded guilty to abusing a position of trust as a teacher by grooming, fondling, and having sex with the girls, a statutory offence under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act.

He had a plea of not guilty accepted to a charge of possessing child pornography.

Defence agent Kenneth McGowan said McCormick hoped his wife would stand by him.

Sheriff David Hall said McCormick had committed a “gross breach of trust”.

He said: “In the background reports you claim you were unaware that what you were doing was wrong; that you didn’t think it was against the law for a teacher to have a relationship with his pupils. I find this most disturbing and quite incredible.”

In addition to the 14-month jail term, McCormick was made liable to a three-year extended sentence, during which time he can be recalled to jail if he re-offends, and placed on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

He was also banned from using computer equipment or mobile phones with internet access for ten years and from having contact with any child not his own under 16.

McCormick, who had a scruffy beard and wore a blue fleece to court, looked at his feet during his appearance.

One former pupil at the school said last night: “It was so shocking when we heard what happened. He was well liked, but always made more of an effort with the girls than the boys.”

Gordon Currie, head of education at East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “It is against council policy to comment on former employees, but we can confirm that we take any allegation or situation of this nature extremely seriously.

“This matter has been dealt with by Strathclyde Police and the office of the Procurator Fiscal and we have cooperated fully to assist in their enquiries”.

Bearsden Academy is one of Scotland’s best performing state schools and counts Everton manager David Moyes and Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos among its former pupils.

It was last hit by scandal in 1993 when 32-year-old Brian McKinnon posed as a 17-year-old Canadian orphan, Brandon Lee, and spent a year at the school, gaining six Highers and a place to study medicine at Dundee University.