A DISGRACED former teacher has been jailed for two and a half years after being found guilty of causing or inciting four teenage pupils to engage in sexual activity while in a position of trust.

Alexander Thomas, 30, of Queen Elizabeth Drive in Taw Hill, was given the sentence after trying to get a teenage pupil to meet him at a hotel room. He was also given two year sentences for four other offences of incitement and a one month sentence for possessing indecent images. These will run alongside the first sentence.

Thomas was expressionless when the sentence was read out but occasionally shook his head as the judge gave his reasons.

The former business studies teacher at a Wiltshire school contacted the girls via Facebook and later emails and phones. He encouraged them to take pictures of themselves which he then kept.

All the four victims were aged between 16 and 17 and while no sexual contact took place, Judge Tim Mousley QC said he believed Thomas was acting for his own desires.

He said: “I am satisfied you had hoped it would have gone further and you were motivated by your own sexual gratification.

“As a teacher you were in a position of trust which you abused. As a result, a promising career is now over.

“You pleaded not guilty to many of these offences which is your right but you made these girls give evidence and have some highly personal photos shown in public, something which they have described as horrible.

“While you may have not started out with this intention, you repeated the same pattern on each of the girls.

“You made contact via Facebook and then when you thought it was going somewhere you asked the girls to text so the conversation was not in the open.

“While there was no physical contact, the intention was there and it was only due to the good sense of the girls that nothing did.”

During the sentencing, statements were read out from the victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, describing the humiliating impact the experience had on their lives.

One said: “I feel embarrassed that people have seen photos that I thought were private. I have had panic attacks and suffer from anxiety. I have lost a lot of my confidence and am now taking medication.”

Another said: “I do not go out much in case I bump into him. If I hear the front gate open at night I panic in case it is him. I shun male contact.”

All victims described how their education and relationships with men had suffered as a result of Thomas’ crimes.

Following the sentencing, Wiltshire Police Child Abuse Investigator Detective Constable Angela Spray said: “Thomas worked as a secondary school teacher in Wiltshire where he systematically abused the position of trust he was in to prey on vulnerable, underage children for his own sexual gratification.

“Thomas groomed his victims and encouraged them to engage in sexual acts after gaining their confidence and trust.

“He has refused to take any responsibility for his actions and has forced his victims to relive their suffering and give evidence in court.

“I would like to personally thank all of the victims who have shown courage by coming to court to give evidence.

“This case highlights Wiltshire Police’s dedication to work with our partner agencies to safeguard children and vulnerable people in our county.

“The sentence handed down today by the judge reflects the serious nature of these crimes and the impact they have had on the victims.

“I would urge anyone who has been the victim of any sexual assault to contact Wiltshire Police immediately – we have dedicated officers who are specially trained to help those who have been abused.

“Anyone wishing to report a crime should contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.”