Music teacher who groomed teenage girls into sexual relationships jailed for 17 years

·4-min read
Ben Breakwell has been convicted of a series of sex crimes against teenage girls (MPS)
Ben Breakwell has been convicted of a series of sex crimes against teenage girls (MPS)

A Cambridge-educated schoolteacher who abused his position to groom teenage pupils into sexual relationships has been jailed for 17 years.

Ben Breakwell, 40, brought his twisted fantasies to life as he snared girls aged just 13 and 14 into illicit relationships, orchestrating secret meetings at his flat and the basement of the school where he worked.

The professional tenor singer, who took up teaching at a London secondary school, was caught out in 2017 when the girls, who both believed Breakwell was their boyfriend, found out about the true extent of his sexual behaviour.

Breakwell was found guilty in August of a catalogue of 32 sexual offences, and was jailed for 17 years at Isleworth crown court on Thursday.

Investigating officer DS Ben Lawrence-Smith dubbed Breakwell a “sexual predator” and praised the victims for coming forward to police.

CPS lawyer Kate Shilton said: “These victims have shown immense fortitude and resilience in speaking out in these court proceedings. Ben Breakwell was a teacher who should have protected them – but instead he violated them.

“He carried out illegal sexual relationships with two of these schoolgirls. He convinced these victims who were just 13 and 14 at the time, that they were together, special to him and in love with one another. In fact, he was manipulative, and he used his position of trust to groom and exploit these young girls.

Breakwell, who was sacked by the school where he worked when allegations first came to light, was in his mid-30s when he targeted a 14-year-old girl, inviting her into his home on a false pretext so that they could be alone together.

She told the court how Breakwell groomed her for sex, taking advantage of a “naïve” girl as he gradually increased the intensity of their encounters.

Watch: Rape survivor calls for public awareness campaign to make face covering exemptions clearer

“I was quite frozen,” she said of the first time they had sex. “I didn’t really know what was happening, none of my friends had had sex before.”

The girl said it was she, not Breakwell, who first suggested they use protection during sex.

“Afterwards, he said ‘you won’t tell anyone – I feel bad because you won’t be able to tell your friends about it’,” added the girl.

“I said I don’t think I would want to because I was quite embarrassed.

“I had sex and I was 14 – it wasn’t really something I thought would happen.”

The teacher tried to kiss another teenage girl at the end of a lesson, but she rebuffed his advances, and he then struck up another relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

Breakwell’s victims both remember him discussing similar sexual fantasies with them, including threesomes and sex at school, the trial heard.

He had also dated a colleague at work - a teenage teaching assistant - and told the trial himself how he had a four-year sexual relationship with another girl which began when she was just 16-years-old.

Breakwell refused to admit his guilt, trying to convince the jury he was the victim of a smear campaign and suggesting one girl had invented their relationship from scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey.

But when police analysed his phones and computers, they found he had researched countries which do not have an extradition treaty with the UK as well as possible future careers for teachers who have convictions for underage sex.

A spokesman for the Breakwell’s former school said it is “absolutely appalled” by his crimes. “Behaviour like this has no place anywhere in society and we fully support the judge’s sentencing decision today.

"As soon as concerns about this individual were raised in September 2017, he was immediately suspended and then shortly afterwards was dismissed. We also immediately contacted all the statutory authorities including the police, and have supported their lengthy investigation ever since. We repeat our thanks to the police for securing this individual’s conviction while conducting their investigation with sensitivity and professionalism.

"The wellbeing of those in our care is our over-riding priority and at the heart of everything that we do, supported by robust safeguarding procedures that have been reviewed and praised by the NSPCC. Above all we would like to pay tribute to the victims who showed such bravery and dignity to ensure that this person’s offences first came to light and to ensure that justice has been done.”

Breakwell, who moved to Monkgate, York, after the allegations came to light, denied but was convicted of 21 charges of sexual activity with a child, three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, four charges of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust, a count of sexual assault, and two allegations of taking indecent photographs of a child.

He must serve at least two thirds of his prison sentence and will be subject to a lifelong sexual harm prevention order.

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