January 2007

Woodleigh School teacher Matthew Hardy had sex with girl, 15

A MUSIC teacher’s career lay in ruins today after he admitted having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Trumpeter Matthew Thomas Hardy, 37, who got to know the girl through a music band, exchanged text messages which became intimate and then had sex with her twice at his flat. He later confessed to the head teacher at his school, and immediately resigned.

The court heard the girl was not a pupil at Woodleigh School, at Langton, near Malton, where Hardy taught.

When he appeared before York Crown Court, the school’s head teacher, parents and the chairman of governors stood by him and sent testimonials to Judge Stephen Ashurst QC.

The judge told Hardy: “Between May and July last year, you allowed your judgement, which hitherto had been exemplary, to go out of the window when you had intercourse on two occasions with a girl.”

But he added: “You are not a predatory paedophile. Your case is extremely unusual in the sheer number of testimonials that have been provided to the court. You are highly regarded by pupils, parents and fellow professionals.”

He suspended a nine-month prison sentence for two years on condition that Hardy completes two years’ supervision, including a sex offender treatment programme. Hardy, of Langton Road, Malton, but formerly of York, will also be on the sex offenders’ register for ten years. He admitted two offences of sexual activity with a girl under 16.

David Bradshaw, prosecuting, said the girl was not a pupil at the school and the two got to know each other through a music band they both played in.

They exchanged text messages which, in the girl’s words, “got heavy” and intimate. Hardy and the 15-year-old had sex twice at his flat. On the first occasion, she felt she might lose their friendship if she declined, but on the second occasion she was “fully co-operative,” said Mr Bradshaw.

Taryn Turner, mitigating, said the 15-year-old was very mature for her age and Hardy was a “lonely” man despite his busy life. They had mutually decided to end their relationship because they realised it had become inappropriate.

Hardy would have never been allowed to teach again. He needed, and was getting, help from a psychologist.

She said he resigned from his position at the school teaching music, RE and maths immediately after telling the headteacher of his actions, and before he was interviewed by police.

Michael England, head teacher at Woodleigh School, said in a statement to The Press: “I’m greatly saddened by the events which have led to a former teacher from here ending up in court.

“I’m greatly saddened for the teacher and for the girl concerned. Happily, once the event had been seen by him as being wrong, he admitted it to me immediately, I suspended him and he resigned.

“We’ve lost an excellent teacher and my only concern now is that the girl concerned suffers no harm of any kind. That, in my mind, is the single most important thing.”