Dr Neal McGowan — who has taught at schools all over Britain — appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court, Essex on Thursday, February 8, for sentencing, having earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of abusing a position of trust by causing or inciting sexual activity with a boy aged 13 to 17 and two counts of making indecent images of a child.
The 54-year-old — who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, was jailed for 10 months in prison and made to sign the sex offender's register for 10 years.
After the prison sentence had been imposed, Britain's leading child welfare and protection charity warned such abuse crimes often ruined childhoods.
In a statement to Sputnik, the NSPCC Scotland said: "As a headteacher McGowan had a duty to protect children but instead he carried out appalling child sex offences. Abuse ruins childhoods and its effects can last long into adult life so it's right that he is now behind bars where he cannot harm others."
The spokesman added: "We hope McGowan's victim is now receiving all available support. It is vital that all victims of abuse feel confident to speak out about their attackers and receive justice for the crimes carried out against them."
Sharing too much online can be risky. This #SID2018 help keep your kids safe by having a chat about being #ShareAware. We've got advice: https://t.co/0LultfMm3E #ItStartsWithUs pic.twitter.com/38obiRzXeG— NSPCC (@NSPCC) February 6, 2018
Passing sentence, Judge Emma Peters said his action had been a "gross" breach of trust.
She said "This matter is one that is incredibly serious. Through all the representations I have received from former friends, colleagues and pupils, it is clear you have achieved some great things in the world of education. That is what makes the facts of this case so dispiriting. It is a spectacular fall from grace.
"From your extensive training and experience you knew that getting into these conversations was wrong. You even remarked in one message that your victim must not tell anyone the nature of the conversations otherwise you would be going to jail. I can see that he will have played an equal role in the nature of these messages, but it does not matter," the judge added.
"You allowed yourself to be involved in sexual chat with one of your male pupils, a boy who at the time was 17 and was struggling to come to terms with his own sexuality, a matter you were aware of."
Neal McGowan, 54, a former headteacher at an Essex school, jailed for ten months for sex offences https://t.co/RqdYfLzfsJ— The Liberator UK (@UKTopStories) 9 February 2018
His defence solicitor Louise Sweet said: "He is a man who is ordinarily very sound in his judgement. His judgement was clouded."
The court heard McGowan had been headteacher of a school in Essex when the offences occurred at the start of 2016. His behaviour was later deemed an abuse of trust as the teenager was a pupil at his school.
The pair never met up for sexual contact and the exchange of texts and Facetime messages lasted for about two months.
The exchanges were said to have been reciprocal and the youth had not wanted to be part of any criminal proceedings but the judge insisted it had been up to McGowan to stop the contact.
During that time the sixth former's behaviour and attendance deteriorated. Prosecutor Kate Davis said he was "behaving arrogantly, as if he was untouchable".