A TEACHER tracked down four pupils on Facebook before bombarding them with messages asking for pictures of them in their underwear, Swindon Crown Court heard yesterday.

Alexander Thomas, 30, allegedly used the social networking site to gain the trust of the female students, who studied at the sixth form where he taught.

The court heard Thomas, of Taw Hill, initially sent the girls, aged between 16 and 17 at the time, innocuous messages.

But his correspondence quickly became sexually explicit and included repeated requests for pictures of the girls’ bodies, it is alleged.

Business studies teacher Thomas is accused of meeting two of his victims, kissing one during a walk and touching another in a jacuzzi.

Thomas denies five counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity while in a position of trust and two counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.

He also denies possessing an indecent photograph of a child.

Prosecuting, Anna Squire told the jury the offences took place between August 31, 2010 and October 12, 2012.

She said: “The defendant contacted all of these girls via Facebook accounts, starting out with innocuous correspondence, but by gaining their trust he was able to ask them to go beyond what was firstly inappropriate in a relationship between a pupil and a teacher to what was ultimately illegal.

“He asked them to send him photographs of themselves in their underwear and asked them to meet him for the purpose of sexual activity.

“He was encouraging these girls to behave in a sexual manner towards him. On two of these occasions, actual sexual activity took place.”

The jury of seven women and five men was told Thomas began working as a PE and business studies teacher at a school in Wiltshire in 2010.

A short time later, Thomas allegedly contacted a 17-year-old pupil on Facebook, sending her the message: “Are you alright? I see you round school a lot.”

Miss Squire said the pair began communicating on BlackBerry Messenger and met up in a village near to the school.

After this meeting, Miss Squire said the defendant sent a message to the girl asking her to meet him at his home address, where he lived with his parents.

“He told her they would assume she was his girlfriend. She inferred that his intention was sexual.”

The girl did not accept the offer, Miss Squire said.

A second pupil allegedly received messages from Thomas shortly after starting at the sixth form in 2011. Another girl is said to have received a Facebook message from Thomas asking her to come to school to help him find a piece of her coursework and they allegedly met at a swimming pool where he is alleged to have touched her under her bikini bottom as they sat in a jacuzzi.

Thomas was arrested by police in October 2012, after teachers at his school became aware of rumours circulating between pupils.

The trial, expected to last for six days in front of Judge Tim Mousley QC, continues.