Disgraced teacher avoids jail for sexual activity with teenager

Ipswich crown court building with union flag

Tristan Gasper appeared at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk teacher has avoided going straight to jail for engaging in sexual activity with a teenage girl while in a position of trust.

Former Bungay High School teacher Tristan Gasper was handed a suspended prison sentence at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday.

The 38-year-old, of Lavenham Road, Ipswich, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing on March 24 to three counts of engaging in sexual activity with a teenage girl while in a position of trust.

Two of the charges related to sexual activity on specific dates, while the third charge covered sexual activity on at least five occasions not included in the first two counts.

Prosecutor Stephen Earnshaw said Gasper's offending was uncovered by his girlfriend before being set out in a statement by the victim to police.

The court heard that Gasper had, on separate occasions, engaged in sexual activity with the girl in a field and inside a car parked in a lay-by.

Mr Earnshaw said that, when arrested and interviewed, Gasper made full admissions.

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Danielle O'Donovan, mitigating, said that, had Gasper stayed silent in interview, the case may never reached court because the victim was "resistant to make a complaint".

She said Gasper had since been diagnosed with, and medicated for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding: "It is a positive sign that he hasn't genuinely contemplated suicide in the last month.

"His partner stands by him, for better or worse. Clearly, the relationship will take a great deal of work, but it is to his credit that she feels he is someone worth giving another chance, and someone who can stay away from offending behaviour.

"By his actions, he has lost everything. His career is lost, and with that goes his good character.

"He accepts fully his wrongdoing, and expresses a great deal of remorse for what he has done and the damage he may well have caused this young lady's life."

Judge David Pugh said he was satisfied that there was a significant degree of planning, grooming behaviour and "specific targeting" by Gasper.

Judge Pugh said he had taken into account a pre-sentence report finding that Gasper was of low risk of reoffending.

Gasper was handed a two-year jail sentence, suspended for two years, with 220 hours of unpaid work and 40 hours of rehabilitation activity requirement. He will be barred from teaching and must sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

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