On 20th January 2015* Simon Parsons, a drama teacher, was sentenced to 12 months due to offences rising out of a 5 year affair with one of his pupils.
The victim was a pupil at Castle School where Mr Parsons was Head of Drama. Over a five year period, starting from when the victim was 17, they had a sexual relationship. This was ended by the victim when she was in her early twenties, by which time they had had a child together.
Mr Parsons pleaded guilty on the specific basis (which appears to have been accepted) that he did not groom the victim, and the prosecution accepted that the sexual activity was consensual (obviously, or else a much more serious offence would have been committed).
It seems that Mr Parsons pleaded guilty and was remanded in custody until sentence. He pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual activity in breach of trust.
As we’ve looked at before, there are the Sentencing Guidelines (page 67). It is Category 1 and would appear to be Culpability B. This gives a starting point of 12 months, with a range of ½ to 1½ years.
The pregnancy would obviously normally be an highly aggravating factor, but here it appears that this happened after the victim was over 18, and so it would not be. Looking at it, the aggravating and mitigating factors would appear to balance out and so we would be looking at the starting point being about a year, minus the discount for a plea of guilty, so 8-10 months (depending on when the plea was entered)
Here, the sentence appears to be well within the appropriate range in terms of length. Why wasn’t it suspended? The short answer is that we don’t know. On the face of it, this is a sort of case where a suspended sentence would have been unobjectionable (especially as it appears that Mr Parsons has had two months on remand, and therefore had a proper ‘taste of prison’), but we doubt that the Court of Appeal would intervene and suspend it. There is probably no harm in Mr Parsons appealing, but we doubt that he will get very far.