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Lesbian affair teacher should not be in jail’

PUBLISHED: 15:53 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:13 25 August 2010

JAILED: Helen Goddard.

JAILED: Helen Goddard.

A FRIEND of a teacher who was jailed for 15 months for having a lesbian affair with her pupil said locking her up is a waste of taxpayers money.

A FRIEND of a teacher who was jailed for 15 months for having a lesbian affair with her pupil said locking her up is a waste of taxpayers' money.

Helen Goddard, 26, from Greenwich, was jailed on Monday, for having an affair with a 15-year-old girl, whilst she was her teacher at a £13,000 a year private school.

A court order prevents the publication of the school and the student's name.

Upon sentencing the trumpet teacher, who admitted six counts of sexual activity with a child between February 15 and July 11, Judge Anthony Pitts said: "I must pass sentence very much on the same basis as I would if you were a male teacher of 25 or 26, who developed a sexual relationship with a young male or young female pupil.

"I bear in mind that this was a consensual relationship and you did not deliberately groom her with the offence in mind."

Goddard, who was one of only five children from England invited to play at the opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympics, was also banned from working with children for life and has been ordered to sign on to the sexual offenders' register for 10 years.

But her friend whom she met whilst studying for her degree at the Trinity College of Music said a custodial sentence will not achieve anything.

Natasha Black, 23, from Glasgow, said: "She is a lovely person. She doesn't deserve the long prison sentence at all.

"I agree that she should have lost her job but a prison sentence, particularly 15 months, is harsh and a waste of taxpayers' money. I don't see what it achieves. She's already had her career ruined.

"I think the press coverage from the tabloids in particular has been sensationalist, sexist and homophobic.

"The schoolgirl's parents seem to be more angry that their daughter is gay than anything else and are punishing Helen for bringing that out in her, when it is clear she was gay already from what I've read.

"I don't think it's an issue about the law being sexist, just about a girl who made a stupid mistake, who should quite rightly have lost her job, but who shouldn't be criminalised for it by being sent to jail for 15 months."

Goddard sat with her head in her hands when the court was told that the pupil still loved her.

The court also heard how the pupil's sister had been in touch with Goddard since the proceedings had started and that some of the family still had "a lot of affection" for her.

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