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Belfast schoolteacher jailed for 70s abuse and grooming of pupil

A former teacher who groomed a pupil and then sexually abused her in the 1970s has been jailed for 13-and-a-half months.

Carol Greer, 76 , now of Thorne Road, Doncaster in England, will spend a similar period on supervised licence on her release from prison.

Greer had pleaded guilty to 15 counts of indecent assault on a female.

The offences took place between August 1971 and January 1978 and began when Greer worked at a Belfast school.

Belfast Crown Court was told the victim started at Newtownbreda Secondary School when she turned 12 and the defendant, who was her teacher, was known to her as Ms McRoberts.

The court heard the defendant invited the victim to a Christian youth club event, which she found “very flattering”.

“By the end of first year, the defendant started to leave the victim home in her car and they began to see each other outside of school,” a prosecution lawyer told the court.

“At some point from the end of the victim’s first year at school, there began to be low-level kissing and sexual touching over her clothing which continued until her third year at school.”

‘Pushing the boundaries’

The court heard the defendant then started to take the victim back to her house in Comber, County Down, by which time the teacher was married.

“The victim has described that looking back, it felt like the defendant was pushing the boundaries but there was not ‘hardcore sex’ at this stage but sexual touching continued,” the prosecutor said.

“The situation developed so that the victim had her own bedroom at the Greers’ house. She recalled that the defendant’s husband was in the RUC Reserves and was usually on duty on a Friday night.”

The prosecutor said the victim would stay at Greer’s home on Friday nights and felt like an “adopted child”.

The lawyer added that by the time the victim was in her third year of school, the sexual activity had increased.

The victim recalled during a dinner party at the Greers’ house, she went to bed and woke to find the defendant “kneeling next to her bed and kissing her” before sexually assaulting her.

In another incident, the defendant came to the victim’s home and was helping her with homework when she was 15 or 16.

“As they finished, they were leaving her study room and the defendant turned the light out and pushed her against the door and kissed her. She described it as very forceful,” the prosecutor said.

The offending came to light in 2016 when the victim spoke to an old school friend who knew the defendant and it was agreed to email Greer.

“It took her over two years to write to the defendant directly on 24 February 2019,” the prosecutor said.

“The defendant responded apologising and asking for forgiveness.”

The victim made a statement to police in January 2020 and the following month the defendant was interviewed by PSNI detectives.

Greer stated she was the victim’s maths teacher and a “sort of friendship grew”, they were “like sisters but then overstepped the mark really”.

However, Greer denied grooming her victim and said it just ”happened out of the blue”.

When asked if she knew it was wrong, she stated she knew in God’s eyes it was wrong but didn’t know if it was legally wrong.

In a statement to the court, the victim said she became quite distressed at one stage as did not know how to make what was happening stop.

She did not think anyone would believe her and thought on one occasion about taking her own life.

Passing the 27-month sentence, Judge Kerr said he was satisfied there was “clear evidence of grooming” by the defendant including socialising with her and giving the victim a room in her own home.

Stating that both the culpability and harm were high, the judge said: “Due to the seriousness of the offending, and the number of offences, only a custodial penalty is appropriate.”

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