Sex-crimes teacher’s ‘gross breach of trust’ leads to 16 months in jail

Sex offender Andrew Beattie is led from Jedburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday
Sex offender Andrew Beattie is led from Jedburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday

A BIOLOGY teacher who sexually assaulted two male pupils has been jailed for 16 months.

Andrew Beattie’s offending came to light when he was arrested in May 2010 after more than 1,300 indecent images of children were found on his home computer.

The victims then came forward to report the assaults which took place at Selkirk High School in the 1990s.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Donald Corke told the 62-year-old his “conduct was quite unruly of the honourable profession you belonged”.

He added: “You must understand the public revulsion that a teacher should possess such images.”

The sheriff also described the assaults as a “gross breach of trust and abuse of power”.

Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told Beattie himself had been the victim of sexual abuse in the past and had a “lifelong interest in pubescent boys”.

Beattie – a teacher at Selkirk High School for 30 years – previously pleaded guilty at Jedburgh Sheriff Court to having the indecent images of children at his home in Hawick, on May 14, 2010.

He also admitted indecently assaulting a 14-year-old boy while working as a teacher at the secondary school between April and August 1991 and also performing a sex act on a 15-year-old male pupil between April 1995 and May 1996.

A previous court hearing was told how a joint operation run by Lincolnshire Police and the Child Protection Centre led to an email address used by Beattie to download indecent images of children.

A credit card also linked him to a website.

In May 2010 police officers attended at Selkirk High School where Beattie was working as a teacher and detained him before searching his home.

The court was told that the bedroom computer hard drive was examined and 444 level one – the least serious – images were found showing young boys posing provocatively.

There were also 102 images at level two showing multi-participants in images and movies ranging in age from 10 to 14 years.

At level three, 406 images were found showing young boys and adult males engaging in sexual acts.

There were also 439 images at level four showing young boys and adult males in sexual acts as well as images and movies between children with some just a few years old.

Following local publicity about the case, two former pupils came forward to say they had been indecently assaulted by the teacher.

Defence advocate Shelagh McCall said Beattie had the prospect of a prison sentence hanging over him for the past two years since the images were found at his home.

She said: “The proceedings in court have lasted an unusually long time. He has suffered a great deal of anxiety and stress and ill health.”

Ms McCall said it was an “unusual case” and called for an unusual disposal by way of a community-based sentence as an alternative to prison.

She described how experts had rated the prospects of him reoffending as “relatively low”.

Ms McCall said: “He is determined not to commit a similar offence again. He is deeply ashamed. He recognises it was his job to make amends and has done everything he can to make amends.”

She explained how he had resigned from his job as soon as the allegations came to light without forcing disciplinary issues.

He had been ostracised by his neighbours in Hawick and his car had been vandalised.

Ms McCall said he had also undergone lifestyle changes and had recently been baptised in the Pentecostal Church which provided him with a great deal of support and accountability with the pastor present in court.

In addition, he had voluntarily undergone counselling and had been cooperative with the police as soon as the offences came to light.

Sheriff Corke imposed jail sentences of 16 months and eight months for the indecent assaults, as well as four months for the images – all sentences to run concurrently.

He also imposed an extended sentence of three years and four months to provide supervision after he was released from prison and recommended to Scottish Ministers that he is unsuitable to work with children.

Beattie, of Longhope Drive, Hawick, was put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.