A teacher sent “highly sexually charged” messages to a 17-year-old student as they studied erotic best-selling novel Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Thomas Stirling, 24, admitted causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity while he was in a position of authority between September 1 and November 17, 2015.
His lawyers said the young teacher regretted “befriending” the pupil and claimed the pair were looking at the “grammar and content” in Fifty Shades so they could compare it to other works of literature such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Jeremy Evans, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that Stirling sent “highly sexually charged” messages to a girl who was aged 17 at the time.
He taught creative writing at Franklin College, in Grimsby, at the time but was later suspended and his employment was terminated.
Stirling’s girlfriend, 18, found “compromising” pictures on his mobile phone and believed he was being unfaithful, the Grimsby Telegraph reports.
The relationship ended and she returned from Grimsby to Sheffield, where he had done teacher training.
She logged on to his Instagram account and it was discovered that “intimate” and “sexually explicit” messages had been “pinging between” Stirling and the girl.
They included references to her virginity and sexual acts. There was an “element of fantasy” to them.
Staff at the Sheffield college contacted a welfare officer at the Grimsby college.
Patricia Doherty, mitigating, said that Stirling had no previous convictions and accepted that he should not have befriended the girl.
“He had some problems of his own in the past and foolishly and naively thought that he could help her,” said Mrs Doherty.
“Foolishly, he thought he could assist her. He realises he can never be a teacher. He resigned and got himself another job as a receptionist at a hotel in Derbyshire.
“He realises all those years in education are wasted. He realises that what he did was incredibly foolish.”
Stirling had left his recent job, was moving to the Stoke area and had two job interviews coming up as a sales representative.
“He knows that he can’t go back into teaching at all,” said Mrs Doherty. “He has taken this job because it keeps him away from youngsters. He has put distance between himself and the girl.”
The teenager was just weeks away at the time from her 18th birthday.
“Had these messages started later, then he would not be in the dock and his life would not have been ruined, as it has been,” said Mrs Doherty.
“She felt that there was nothing of a sexual relationship between them anyway. There has not been physical contact. It did not actually take place.”
Stirling and the girl had been looking at the erotic book Fifty Shades Of Grey.
“They were looking at the grammar and content of that sort of book, which was the opposite of something like Macbeth,” claimed Mrs Doherty.
Recorder Eric Elliott QC told Stirling: “She was having certain personal and domestic problems and looked to you to help her.
“You, very misguidedly and perhaps naively, thought you could help her.”
Sexually explicit messages were exchanged between them.
“You knew full well, bearing in mind you were a teacher in a position of trust, that you ought not to go down that road,” said Recorder Elliott.
“It emerged that you had been involved in this activity. There was no physical sexual contact between you and her.
“It’s a significant breach of trust. You have cut off all contact with her and moved away from the area.”
Stirling, of Bakewell, Derbyshire, was given 15 days’ rehabilitation and must do a sex offenders’ treatment programme.
He was ordered to register as a sex offender for five years.