A female teacher who was shortlisted for London's Sports Teacher of the Year in 2018 has been jailed for two years after admitting to a relationship with a female pupil.
Disgraced sports tutor Erin Hebblewhite, 29, has admitted to seven charges which involved abusing her position to groom and sexually abuse a 16-year-old at Connaught School for Girls in London.
The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that Hebblewhite was the first person she had ever kissed and also said she lost her virginity to the teacher in a restaurant bathroom by “digital penetration” around Valentine’s Day.
All of the charges of sexual activity with the girl, including kissing on the premises of the east London school, took place in the same year as Hebblewhite, from Brighton, was shortlisted for the award.
Gossip was reportedly spread during the course of the relationship but the school believed the rumours to be untrue at the time.
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard the school even warned Hebblewhite to be "careful" otherwise she could "get into trouble".
Prosecutor Fiona Bryan told the court the girl had reluctantly taken part in indecent photographs being taken after she felt pressured by Hebblewhite.
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When Hebblewhite broke up with her partner, the teenager came over to her home on a regular basis, where the two would engage in “digital penetration and oral sex”, according to Ms Bryan.
The court heard how on one occasion, Hebblewhite tried to pressure the girl into having sex in the toilets of Primark.
The offending came to light when the teen's phone was seized by her mother and a family member was able to find explicit messages despite pleas from Hebblewhite for the girl to delete them.
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Ms Bryan added: "She was arrested on October 28, her home was searched and a USB stick containing 400 relevant images including both the defendant and [the complainant] naked and in bed together as well as images of them kissing as a couple."
Hebblewhite pleaded guilty to four offences relating to sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 to 17 and abusing her position of trust, with the fifth charge being sexual activity in the presence of a teenager.
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She also pleaded guilty to two charges of taking and possession of indecent photographs of a girl under the age of 17.
Bethan Rogers, in mitigation, said: "She is painfully aware the damage to the victim is both wide-ranging, long-lasting and likely to be there for a significant period of time.
"Nonetheless, there was genuine affection and caring on her part."
Judge Neil Sanders, passing sentence, imposed a 10-year restraining order and sexual harm prevention order banning her from contacting the victim or working with children in any capacity.
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He also jailed Hebblewhite, who is originally from Australia, for two years with all charges to run concurrently.
Judge Sanders said: “I have read the victim personal statement and can summarise as such the areas [the victim] describes is feeling guilty and shame and depression, PTSD and feeling suicidal.
"She describes the interruption of an important time of education and development.
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"She talks about the damage to her relationships of her friends, family and her best friend. She says she struggles with adult relationships and she found the criminal process an ordeal.
Hebblewhite was wearing a navy suit and cream jumper as she broke down in tears and tried to speak to her girlfriend who was supporting her from the public gallery.
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Connaught School for Girls describes itself as having an "exceptional track record of academic excellence which comes from a combination of excellent teaching from very experienced specialist teachers, strong pastoral support and rich learning experiences which work together to educate the girls to be the best version of themselves, both academically and holistically."
Connaught School for Girls has been contacted for comment.
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