Lecturer jailed for student affair

A college lecturer who had a six-month relationship with a teenage student was today jailed for eight months.





Mark Mullis began the affair with the 17-year-old while working at the further education college in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.



Swindon Crown Court heard that the girl had "come on to" Mullis and had "hounded him" by text - even sending the defendant indecent pictures of herself.



The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, described the six-month relationship as "fun" and said it was "just sex".



Mullis met the teenager in the smoking shelter at Wiltshire College, where he taught practical skills.



She told police: "He gave me a lift home and I came on to him. I just keep hounding him really.



"It was always me that came on to him. It was me that started everything.



"I may be 17 but I am a very mature 17-year-old. It was me that was inappropriate really. He was always professional to me at college



"I don't at all feel like a victim either. It was just fun. That was what it was, just sex."



The court was told that at first Mullis, who did not teach the girl, did not know she was a student at the college but must have realised "quite quickly" that she went there.



The relationship began in early 2009 and lasted six months before briefly re-uniting a year later, the court was told.



Prosecutor Colin Meeke said: "It has always been the Crown's case that he must have been pretty aware quite quickly.



"He got to know her very well. It was not long before she obtained his mobile number and began sending him texts.



"Certainly he taught some of her friends and there must have been some awareness of that.



"It is right to say from an early stage she 'set her cap' at the defendant and she made all the running.



"That does not excuse the fact that once he was aware that she was a student at the college he should not have continued and allowed the matters to continue in the way they did.



"She asked him for lifts. She, in her words, 'hounded him' by text and she pushed it a lot further.



"Quite quickly she started sending him photographs of her private parts."



Mr Meeke described the teenager as "somewhat naive" and added: "The relationship moved on, becoming a sexual one with her full agreement



"It is abundantly clear that he also showed those private photographs she had sent him to other people, which caused a rift between them."



At an earlier hearing, Mullis, of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.











Marcus Tregilgas-Davey, defending, said it was the girl who had instigated the relationship and it was one of "genuine affection".



"When the sexual relationship began he didn't realise she was a student," he said.



"I accept that, shortly afterwards, he must have become aware and that was the basis of the plea, which was accepted by the Crown.



"If you read through her statement, there is no sense that she was used, abused or a victim.



"She was not vulnerable, she was not harmed psychologically and she refused to make a victim impact statement."



Mr Tregilgas-Davey said the relationship had been very costly to 40-year-old Mullis.



"His professional life is in tatters and is ruined. It is clear he is never going to teach again in a college or work as a tutor," he said.



The barrister said Mullis had started at the college as a caretaker but, having taken professional qualifications, worked his way up to become a tutor.



"He was very proud of being a tutor and the sad thing is that he was clearly a very good tutor," he said.



Mr Tregilgas-Davey said that, at the time Mullis committed the offences, his marriage of 21 years had just ended and his mother had died.



"His transgression lies in that very difficult period," he said.



"His personal life is in tatters and lies ruined around him. He was very close to his daughter and she no longer speaks to him."



Deputy Circuit Judge Lester Boothman said the appropriate sentence for the case was 12 months' imprisonment but, having taken into account an early guilty plea, he would reduce that to eight months.



"I accept all the points that have been made in mitigation," he told Mullis.



"The relationship was consensual and I accept that you didn't know to begin with that she was a student.



"The law makes it clear that people in a position of trust must not do what you did. It must be perfectly well known in your profession that you must not do this."







A spokeswoman for Wiltshire College said: "He was suspended as soon as we became aware of the situation. He is no longer an employee of Wiltshire College."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past