March 2022

Paedophile drama teacher groomed 14-year-old school pupil

A perverted drama teacher sent sexually explicit messages to a 14-year-old pupil he met during rehearsals for a school play.

Jason Ryan, from Grappenhall, was handed a 10-year notification requirement at Warrington Magistrates Court on Tuesday, March 1, following his conviction in the Republic of Ireland last year.

The dad was spared prison in December after admitting sexual exploitation of a child.

Sligo Circuit Court heard that his offending occurred over the period of a month during 2014, during which he bombarded the girl with dozens of Facebook messages – many of which were of a sexual nature.

Ryan, of Kildonan Road, used the pseudonym John Marks and first contacted his victim a month after the musical was staged.

On one day alone he sent her 40 messages, including one with pictures from her account alongside the caption ‘mmmm…’.

The now 43-year-old – who ran his own production company – sent her a photograph of herself in a bikini beside a pool during a family holiday, leaving her feel ‘uncomfortable’.

On the advice of friends, she reported Ryan’s behaviour to a teacher and the school’s principal subsequently contacted police.

His then home in Kilkenny was then raided by officers in July 2014 when his wife and three children were present.

The defendant was arrested at the scene – with a laptop, mobile phone and tablet seized by the Garda – and a lengthy investigation followed.

Ryan, who ran his own production company, was also found to have complimented the girl on her eyes, smile and body – stating in one message: “You look so hot and your body is so mmm.”

He claimed to have been aroused by a picture of her, about which he said: “You have to admit you look hot in that pic.”

She was also asked if she had a boyfriend and whether she was sexually active, but after reminding him that she was 14 the teacher replied he ‘knew some girls who start at 12’.

The complainant then told him to leave her alone, to which he responded that he thought the conversation might ‘turn you on a little’.

Ryan then apologised and admitted that he was attracted to her before agreeing to cease his messaging.

Under interview, he confessed to using the Facebook account and claimed that he thought the girl was aged 15 or 16.

A statement read out to the court on her behalf described how she was left ‘anxious and frightened’ for years afterwards and became less interested in music and drama as a result.

Ryan, whose partner died in November 2020, was described by his defence counsel as a ‘good person who did a very stupid thing’.

He was working at an NHS vaccination centre as of late last year.

Judge Francis Comerford imposed a 23-month imprisonment suspended for 23 months.

Ryan – who has one previous conviction for a minor motoring offence – was this week ordered to sign the offenders’ register at Warrington Police Station within three days by magistrates panel chairman Lynn Colter-Howard.

Representing himself in court, he replied by saying: “I fully understand, thank you very much.”