Teacher found guilty of preying on teenage pupils he groomed for sex

·5-min read
Ben Breakwell has been convicted of a series of sex crimes against teenage girls (MPS)
Ben Breakwell has been convicted of a series of sex crimes against teenage girls (MPS)

A Cambridge-educated schoolteacher is facing years in prison for preying on teenage pupils who he groomed into sexual relationships.

Ben Breakwell, 40, brought his twisted fantasies to life as he snared schoolgirls aged just 13 and 14 into illicit relationships, orchestrating secret meetings at his west London flat and the basement of the school where he worked.

The professional tenor singer, who took up teaching at a London secondary school, was caught out when one of the girls was recorded by friends graphically describing sex with Breakwell. 

He suggested the girl was repeating stories she had seen on porn websites and the film Fifty Shades of Grey, and insisted when the other girl came forward to accused him that she had invented a “fantasy” love life.

But a jury at Isleworth crown court today found Breakwell guilty of a slew of child sex offences. He will be held in custody until sentencing in October, and is likely to face years in prison.

“It is clear that Breakwell was a sexual predator who carefully manipulated these young girls in order to exploit them. His victims were very young and he led them to believe they were in love with him, knowing that if they cared for him they were less likely to alert anyone to his crimes”, said Detective Constable Ben Lawrence-Smith.

General view of Isleworth Crown Court, London (PA Archive/PA Images)
General view of Isleworth Crown Court, London (PA Archive/PA Images)

“My thoughts are with the young girls who were betrayed by Breakwell. They have all been incredibly brave and it is their courage in speaking out that has brought him to justice.” 

The officer said it is possible Breakwell may have preyed on other girls who have not yet come forward to police.  

The former teacher, who was sacked by the school where he worked when allegations first came to light, was also convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl when he moved in to try and kiss her at the end of a lesson.

Breakwell, a Cambridge university graduate in English literature, was in his 30s when he targeted the 14-year-old girl, inviting her into his home on a false pretext so that they could be alone together.

She told the court how Breakwell gradually groomed her for sex, taking advantage of a “naïve” girl as he increased the intensity of their encounters.

“I was quite frozen”, she said of the first time they had sex. “I didn’t really know what was happening, none of my friends had had sex before.”

The girl said it was she, not Breakwell, who first suggested they use protection during sex.

“Afterwards, he said ‘you won’t tell anyone – I feel bad because you won’t be able to tell your friends about it’”, added the girl.

“I said I don’t think I would want to because I was quite embarrassed.

“I had sex and I was 14 – it wasn’t really something I thought would happen.”

Ben Breakwell (MPS)
Ben Breakwell (MPS)

Prosecutor Catherine Farrelly said a “hallmark” of Breakwell’s grooming was to “make his first move and then follow it up with a message to say that it was completely unexpected, but he’d liked it”.

Breakwell was arrested when the 13-year-old girl came forward to say she had also been in a sexual relationship with him, believing they were in love.

She had been taped by her friends discussing the secret relationship, graphically describing her sexual encounter with her teacher, and the recording was ultimately passed to police.

Both girls told detectives how Breakwell had raised the prospect of having a threesome with another woman, and also discussed his fantasy of having sex at the school where he worked.

Independent of each other, the girls both identified a spot in the basement of the music department where Breakwell had taken them for a sexual encounter.

One of the girls said she had told Breakwell “this is so illegal” and he had replied: “I know”. 

Prosecutors brought forward evidence of Breakwell’s long-standing interest in teenagers, including a brief relationship with a young teaching assistant. He told the trial himself how he had a four-year sexual relationship with a girl which started when she was just 16.

Breakwell insisted he was the victim of a slur campaign by all of his accusers, and said the sexual assault of the 16-year-old girl was nothing more than a misinterpreted attempt to give her a hug.

When police analysed his phones and computers, they found he had researched countries which do not have an extradition treaty with the UK as well as possible future careers for teachers who have convictions for underage sex.

The school where Breakwell used to work issued a statement after the verdicts, saying it is “absolutely appalled” by the crimes. 

“Behaviour like this has no place anywhere in society”, it said. "As soon as concerns about this individual were raised he was immediately suspended and then shortly afterwards was dismissed. 

“We also immediately contacted all the statutory authorities including the police, and have supported their lengthy investigation ever since. We thank the police for securing this individual’s conviction while conducting their investigation with sensitivity and professionalism.”

Breakwell, who now lives in Monkgate, York, denied but was convicted of 21 charges of sexual activity with a child, three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, four charges of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust, a count of sexual assault, and two allegations of taking indecent photographs of a child.

He was remanded in custody after the guilty verdicts, and is due to return to court in mid-October.

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