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A TEACHER’S online relationship with a 13-year-old girl was “professional suicide”, a judge at York Crown Court said.James Sutton, 27, was sentenced to a three-year community order yesterday after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of possessing indecent photographs of the York teenager.The court heard Sutton and the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began an online relationship in early 2012, after he responded to a profile she had set up on a dating website.Over several weeks, the pair exchanged pictures and the girl sent Sutton a sexual video of herself, before the relationship “fizzled out”, Sutton said in police interview.Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, told the court Sutton did not end the relationship when the girl told him she was living with her parents or was being bullied at school, and described himself as “a lonely and isolated man who was flattered by the attention”.Sutton deleted all communications, pictures and videos from the girl prior to his arrest by police, and did not share them with anyone else.Investigators also said there was no evidence he had searched for indecent images of children.For Sutton, Rebecca Stevens told the court it was “a tragic case”, “born out of loneliness and isolation”, and “not born out of a predilection for young girls”.Ms Stevens said letters of support for Sutton had been sent to the court.In these he was described as “an understanding teacher, a supportive friend, honest, caring, but also naive and having an innocent vulnerability”.Judge Stephen Ashurst, the Recorder of York, sentenced Sutton, of St Helen’s Avenue in Barnsley, to three years of supervision and a five-year sexual offences prevention order, which meant police could monitor his use of the internet.He also disqualified Sutton from working with children, and ordered him to undertake a three-year sexual offenders’ programme.Judge Ashurst said: “What is quite clear is that when you carried on that correspondence, in March and April 2012, you must have known that you were committing professional suicide.“Your convictions will take a long time to live down, but I am prepared to give you the opportunity to do that under very strict supervision by the probation service.“You must have appreciated that you were committing a serious criminal offence and if you were discovered there would be potentially very serious consequences,” the judge told Sutton.

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