Woman jailed for sexual offences against boys - Berkshire

03/12/2012

A woman who worked at a secondary school in Berkshire has today, Monday, 03 December 2012, been jailed at Reading Crown Court for 32 months for committing sexual offences against teenage boys.

Emma Webb, aged 42, of Kingfisher Drive, Woodley, admitted 16 offences, at an earlier court hearing. The offences relate to four victims, who were all aged between 15 and 17-years-old.

As well as the jail sentence, she was disqualified for life from working with people under the age of 18.

Webb was suspended from her job as a cover supervisor at a school in Berkshire at the end of May, after staff raised concerns over her inappropriate behaviour with pupils.

In June, the mother of one of the victims contacted police to raise concerns about Webb. The boy was interviewed and disclosed he had engaged in sexual activity with Webb.

Webb was arrested and admitted a relationship with the boy, but denied any sexual abuse. She declined to comment during subsequent interviews in relation to another three victims.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "We have worked closely with Thames Valley Police since this investigation was launched.  This case involved the serious abuse of children.  Emma Webb was a trusted member of the teaching staff at the school where the complainants were pupils.  The age of the victims greatly increases the seriousness of the offences.

"Not only did she breach the trust of the pupils at the school, their parents and the staff, Webb also abused her position of authority in order to gain access to these vulnerable victims.

"Webb's guilty plea reflected the strength of the prosecution case against her, and meant that her victims did not have to give evidence in court.

"The sentence imposed today recognises the seriousness of the offences and the vulnerability of the victims and I hope it gives some sense of closure to these victims, so they can now put this experience behind them and move on with their lives.  Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Detective Inspector Mark Tucker, of the Child Abuse Investigation Unit (CAIU) in Reading, said: "Emma Webb was in a position of trust and her actions were quite simply a gross abuse of that trust.

"She preyed on teenage boys by befriending them within the school environment and then contacting them by mobile phone or through social networking websites.

"She then manipulated her victims to encourage them to keep the sexual activity secret.

"My team has worked very closely with the school, the local authority, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on this investigation and I welcome the sentence handed down by the court today.

"I hope that this case serves as a warning to others that this behaviour will never be tolerated and that the police and other partner agencies will seek to take robust action against any individual who abuses their position in such a way."

A spokesperson from the local authority said: "I can confirm that a member of staff from one of the borough's schools has been sentenced into custody today.

"The member of staff was suspended in May following an investigation by Thames Valley Police and has now been dismissed. Appropriate checks were carried out when this member of staff was appointed, and as soon as the allegations came to light the school took swift action.

"As the Local Authority, we have worked closely with the school and with Thames Valley Police during this investigation.  The children's education and wellbeing continue to be the main priority."