Derbyshire teacher jailed for having sex with teenage pupil

Ex-teacher Mark Fidler leaving Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty. Photo: Derbyshire Live
Ex-teacher Mark Fidler leaving Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty. Photo: Derbyshire Live

A long-serving teacher at a Derbyshire school has been sentenced for having a sexual relationship with a pupil.

Mark Fidler, who was removed from his post last year, wept in the dock as he was jailed.

He was working at Belper School when he began having intercourse with the teenager, whose identity is protected by law.

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During their time together, a court heard she sent him a topless photograph of herself as well as pictures of her in her underwear which were found in a drawer in his office by a colleague.

The 49-year-old was spotted alone with the victim in his classroom, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

He later admitted they had been away together and had sex and that he had bought her gifts such as underwear, jewellery and clothes.

He originally pleaded guilty at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court last month but a court order prevented Derbyshire Live from naming the school.

At the sentencing, the prosecution applied to the court to prevent the media from naming the school where Fidler worked.

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However, our reporter successfully counter-argued to Judge Steven Coupland that naming Belper School and Sixth Form Centre as his place of work was in the public interest.

Dismissing the prosecution application and handing Fidler a 22-month jail term, Judge Coupland said: “You had been a teacher for more than a quarter of a century and head of music for a number of years.

“You were in a position of responsibility and knew what the rules were about sexual contact with pupils.

“Your teacher’s ethos must have told you about that."

“You should have taken steps to distance yourself from her but instead you moved closer," said the judge.

“She gave no victim statement but the reality is the damage this has caused her is impossible to quantify.”

Leanne Summers, prosecuting, said Fidler, of Johnson Drive, Heanor, had worked at Belper School since 1993 and had been head of music since 2002.

Fidler was dismissed from his role in December 2018 following an internal investigation.

Miss Summers said: “After being dismissed, a colleague was looking in the defendant’s office drawers and found a memory stick which contained pictures of the victim topless and in her underwear.

“He was arrested and candid, saying the lines had become blurred and that they were seeing each other three times a week.

“He said she had stayed over at his home, they had been away together that he had bought her gifts such as jewellery, clothes and underwear.”

Miss Summers said that, as part of the police investigation, Fidler’s phone had been seized and it was discovered he had been Googling whether what he and the victim were doing was illegal or not.

She said the victim was interviewed by the police and admitted she and Fidler had been involved in a sexual relationship.

At Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court in July, Fidler pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a girl while in a position of trust and one count of possessing 13 indecent images of the victim – 10 pictures and three videos.

Andrew Wesley, mitigating at the sentencing hearing in Nottingham, said his client has children of his own who he now no longer sees and has no previous convictions of any kind.

He said he started suffering depression following the break-up of his relationship with his former partner.

Mr Wesley said: “It was when there was nothing left to hide that he co-operated with the police.

“He is fundamentally an honest man who lost sight of his responsibilities as a teacher and an adult.”

Speaking after sentencing, Martyn Cooper, headteacher at Belper School, said: “This is a very serious matter.

“Following reports of inappropriate behaviour the school worked closely with the police and the local authority designated safeguarding officer to ensure that all appropriate action was taken in respect of this matter.

“I wish to reassure parents and the wider community that pupils’ wellbeing is of paramount importance to us.

“This matter has been fully investigated and there is no evidence to suggest that any other pupils were put at risk.

“Mark Fidler no longer works at the school.”

This article first appeared on Derbyshire Live