This article titled “Teacher and partner jailed after they filmed themselves abusing girl” was written by Helen Pidd North of England editor, for The Guardian on Wednesday 22nd December 2021 18.43 UTC
A deputy headteacher and her partner have been jailed for child sexual abuse offences after they filmed themselves abusing and raping a girl.
Julie Morris, a teacher who was also head of safeguarding at a primary school in Wigan, was sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison after she pleaded guilty to 18 child sexual abuse offences, including two counts of rape.
The 44-year-old teacher and her partner, David Morris, 52, filmed themselves abusing the girl, who was under 13, in a series of videos. Liverpool crown court heard the videos showed Julie Morris giggling as the abuse took place.
On Wednesday she also admitted three counts of taking indecent images of a child, one of engaging in sexual communication with a child, and one of possessing indecent images of a child.
Sentencing the couple, the judge, Andrew Menary, said: “Every now and again you see cases the circumstances of which are almost beyond belief. This is one of those cases. It demonstrates that human depravity really knows no depths.”
David Morris was sentenced to 16 years for 34 offences, including seven counts of raping a child under 13, sexual activity with a child, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, sexual communications with a child and taking, possessing and distributing indecent photographs of a child.
The pair were also given indefinite sexual harm prevention orders and will sign the sex offender register for life.
The offences are not related to Julie Morris’s employment at St George’s Central C of E primary school in Tyldesley, though police found that she had sent photographs of children at her school to David Morris. “These photographs were not indecent, or criminal in nature, and there is no evidence that any of the children were harmed,” said Merseyside police.
John Wyn Williams, prosecuting, said the couple met on the dating app Plenty of Fish in 2016 after both had separated from their partners and the relationship “quickly became intensely sexual”.
He said: “The communication between them became graphic and depraved, which led to some of their sexual fantasies becoming a reality.”
David Morris was arrested on 2 September but cautioned and released and a number of devices were seized, which showed the recordings of rape and sexual abuse, the court heard. The couple were arrested the following day at an address in Hindley, Wigan.
“The couple were found to be in possession of £10,000 in cash and their camper van was packed with their belongings, indicating that they were about to abscond,” said Merseyside police.
Julie Morris was sacked shortly after her arrest.
As well as videos and images on David Morris’s phone, officers trawled through 175,000 pages of messages between the couple, revealing sexually explicit communications.
The pair also set up a group chat with the victim in which they would talk about how they would abuse her, the court heard.
The police’s thorough analysis of 175,000 pages of chat logs, spanning three years, revealed the couple’s sexual interest in young children.
DCI Bev Hyland said: “These extremely serious offences committed by Julie and David Morris have had a devastating impact on the victims and their families.”
Thanking members of the public for their bravery in alerting police to the couple’s behaviour, Hyland added: “What makes this case even more concerning is the fact that Julie Morris held a position of trust as a teacher – she held the role of safeguarding lead – and yet she saw fit in her own personal life to completely disregard all of the responsibilities and the trust that her role held.”
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