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Poole High caretaker Paul Stroud jailed over sex act with pupil
A SCHOOL caretaker has been jailed after admitting to a sexual relationship with a teenage pupil.
Paul Stroud, of Days Court, Wimborne, admitted inciting the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to perform sexual acts in a cupboard at Poole High School.
He met the youngster at the school before the pair began exchanging messages on Facebook and texting each other.
Stroud, 45, faced one count of engaging in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 and two of intentionally causing or inciting the girl to engage in sexual activity. He also sent explicit photographs to the teen before the pair met once for a sexual encounter on school grounds.
Heather Shimmen, prosecuting, said: “They arranged to meet in the music block after school,” adding: “She said she hid outside the block and then went in.
“He was waiting in a place she described as a ‘cupboard room’, and he locked the door. They went on to hug and kiss before he undid his trousers.”
Police were alerted to the relationship between the two on June 24 after concerned staff at Poole High School contacted social services.
The student told officers she and friends had jokingly nicknamed Stroud “dad” initially before the two began sending “dirty” messages to each other.
Isabelle Gillard, defending, said Stroud had a number of character referees who had spoken of their shock. “The picture given generally is that of a nice, gentle man,” she said.
“This is not a case where there was any coercion or threats.”
However, she said the caretaker was aware he had committed a “breach of trust”, and had told probation workers he had made “a terrible mistake”.
“He is genuinely ashamed,” she said.
Jailing Stroud for three years and 10 months, Judge John Harrow said: “This was a serious breach of trust with a young girl who was so much younger than you.”
Staff ‘shocked and appalled’ by crime
Fan Heafield, the head of Poole High School, said in a statement: “Since first being made aware of this crime, both the staff and governors at Poole High School were shocked and appalled.
“Our primary concern has always been for the child involved and ensuring they receive all the support possible to help them through this difficult time. We would like to assure our community that there is no question of any other individual being involved.
“The sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of the case and confirms the school’s own internal findings. A detailed investigation into our processes regarding safeguarding concluded that we carried out all safeguarding checks correctly. Every member of staff undergoes safeguarding training when they join the school workforce and this is updated annually. The Local Safeguarding Team is confident that our processes are rigorous.
“As always, the school remains focused on the wellbeing and achievement of every single student who attends Poole High and we continue to evaluate and enhance the effectiveness of our provision.”