April 2006

Teacher jailed for grooming girl

A deputy head teacher who groomed a 14-year-old Derry girl for sex after he posed as a schoolboy on an internet chatroom has been jailed for four years.

Nigel Jackson, 48, admitted indecently assaulting the teenager in Londonderry a year after he resigned from Seaford Head Community College in East Sussex.

Jackson, of Bowden Rise, Seaford, was sentenced for the assault on Wednesday.

Londonderry Crown Court Judge Corinne Philpott said the case showed “the dangers of chatrooms”.

“Life was certainly a great deal safer for young people when they simply communicated with each other directly,” she said.

“Every effort must be made to protect young people who use this form of technology.”

A lawyer representing Jackson said her client was not involved in any criminal activity until he began using the internet at the age of 46.

In mitigation she told the court he had pleaded guilty and co-operated fully with the police since his arrest.

The predator, a father of two, was working as a supply teacher in neighbouring West Sussex when he carried out the sex attack in January 2005.

The court heard that Jackson and his victim had exchanged indecent photos of themselves.

The prosecution said Jackson accepted he had been manipulative and believed his actions were “strange and unnatural”, but did not think his behaviour was wrong.

The judge said it must have been “devastating” for the young victim to realise that she was communicating with a man of 48 and not a 15 year-old-boy.

The case came to light when students at the girl’s school became concerned and contacted a teacher who in turn alerted the police.

The judge said she regarded Jackson as a “risk to society” and placed him on the sex offenders register.

In January, Jackson admitted meeting a child following sexual grooming on two previous occasions prior to the indecent assault on 22 January last year.

Victim appeal

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency on an unknown date between March 2004 and April 2005.

Detective Inspector Tara Nichol with the CARE unit in Derry said it had been the first case of its type to come before the courts in Northern Ireland and was the result of a complex investigation.

“It has been clear from our police investigation that Nigel Jackson is a very dangerous and cunning individual who posed as a schoolboy in order to entice and entrap this young girl,” she said.

She said parents should supervise the websites their children access.

DI Nichol said the court had issued an order that would prevent Jackson teaching, tutoring or having unsupervised access or contact with females under 17.

Sussex Police have also appealed for any other victims of the former deputy head teacher to report the abuse to them.

Jackson was not believed to have been put on the Department For Education banned list (list 99).