Downham Market teacher given suspended prison term for sexting pupil

The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.
The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.

A 27-year-old former Downham teacher has been handed a suspended prison sentence after admitting exchanging 30 sexual images and 15 videos with a pupil.

Emily Tatra, of Norwich, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing a child to watch a sexual act by a person in a position of trust at a crown court hearing this afternoon.

She denied abuse of position of trust by inciting a child into sexual activity, which the court ordered to lie on file.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, told the court that Tatra, who was head of the history department at Downham Market Academy at the time, exchanged messages with the student in March last year.

The court heard that, at that point, teachers were encouraged to interact with pupils over Twitter if extra help was required.

Mr Youell said the student approached Tatra for help with his studies, and this moved from the teacher interacting with him over ‘public Twitter’ to ‘private Twitter’ messages.

He said throughout March the two were messaging each other most nights, which started to get “chattier and chattier”.

“She started to invite him in to her office, which ended up with the door closed.

“This became more inappropriate,” Mr Youell said.

The court was told that the defendant sent him a message on Twitter saying her internet connection was not good and they started using SMS after she sent him her mobile number.

“They started talking about her personal life and made flirty comments,” Mr Youell said.

He told the court she said to him at one point that she “couldn’t help looking at him”.

It was at this point that she began sending him pictures which the pupil found “strange” but he accepted it.

Tatra then suggested moving onto the picture and video social media app Snapchat, the court heard.

Mr Youell said: “In total she sent him approximately 30 naked photos and 15 naked videos.

“That’s as far as things got. She sent these first, it seems it was her who was taking things further on each occasion.”

The court heard that on one particular evening after having a few drinks, the defendant suggested taking things further but this was “the limit of the victim’s experience”, and he “made his excuses”

Mr Youell said it was not until September last year when the pupil emailed a different member of staff at the school to tell her what had happened that Tatra was dismissed from her position and interviewed by police.

Andrew Shaw, mitigating, said his client was “not predatory”.

He said: “She is a naive young woman who in fact was rather sad and rather lonely at the time when this offence was committed.”

The court was told Tatra qualified as a teacher in 2013, and had only been in the profession for three years before she was appointed as head of history at Downham Market Academy in September 2015.

Mr Shaw said she had been under a “great deal of stress” while in the position, and had a “difficult personal life”.

The court heard that Tatra married her partner of six years in July last year, but members of his family had “rejected” her as she did not belong to their religion.

He said: “Not to downplay the seriousness of the case, but there was no physical contact between them at all, and we are talking about a period of weeks during March.”

“If ever there were a defendant who you could say what else can she lose, this is the one.

“She has lost her job, her career, lost her good character, and seems likely to lose her marriage.”

Judge Maureen Bacon QC handed Tatra a four month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

In sentencing, she said: “You were a member of the teaching profession, and you pursued a relationship for your own sexual gratification.

“Why else would you have pursued this amount of contact?

“Perhaps it is more compelling that you lack any judgement at all, or that you put such judgment aside to pursue your own means.

“The fact that such sexual activity never happened was down to him.

“You have brought shame on yourself and your profession.”

She said she would suspend the sentence as Tatra would be “vulnerable” within the prison service.

She ordered the defendant to serve 250 hours of unpaid work and to complete a 35-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Det Con Nicky Gaughan, who headed the investigation. said: “Tatra abused her position of trust as a teacher to carry out sex offences on a teenage boy purely for her own gratification.

“By pleading guilty, she has prevented the victim having to relive his ordeal through a trial; however I would like to commend him for the bravery he has shown and we hope this conviction and sentence provides some level of closure.

“We would also like to assure other victims of abuse that every allegation is fully investigated by Norfolk Constabulary, with specialist officers guiding victims through the process.”

An NSPCC spokesman for the East of England said: “Tatra’s crimes will no doubt leave a long lasting impact on the victim who we hope gets all the appropriate support to recover from this horrific ordeal.

“She seriously abused her position of trust as a teacher and harmed the very person she was supposed to be protecting.

“We hope her rehabilitation includes a sex offender treatment programme to help lessen the risk she may pose to children upon her release.”