A FORMER headmaster has been jailed after admitting a series of sex offences.

Neal McGowan, 54, admitted two counts of abuse of position of trust by causing or inciting sexual activity with a boy aged 13 to 17 and two counts of making indecent images of a child.

McGowan, now of Dickonsfield, Edinburgh, appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court today, where he struggled to hold back tears as he admitted the four charges.

They relate to a series of text conversations between McGowan and a teenage boy. 

The conversation included McGowan and the boy sharing half naked images of themselves with each other.

Judge Emma Peters described McGowan's actions as a "gross" breach of trust.

Passing sentence, she said: "This matter is one that is incredibly serious.

"Through all the representations I have received form former friends, colleagues and pupils, it is clear you have achieved some great things in the world of education.

"That is what makes the facts of this case so dispiriting. It is a spectacular fall from grace.

"From your extensive training and experience you knew that getting into these conversations was wrong. You even remarked in one message that your victim mustn't tell anyone the nature of the conversations otherwise you would be going to jail.

"I can see that he will have played an equal role in the nature of these messages, but it does not matter."

McGowan was sentenced to ten months for the two counts of inciting sexual activity, and an additional two months for the two counts of making indecent images, which will run concurrently.

McGowan taught at schools in Oxfordshire, south London and Bejing before coming to Essex.

He had moved back to Scotland after his arrest and had been lecturing on education at universities and colleges across the country.

McGowan was suspended from the school when he was arrested.

A spokesman for the NSPCC said: "As a headteacher McGowan had a duty to protect children but instead he carried out appalling child sex offences.

“Abuse ruins childhoods and its effects can last long into adult life so it’s right that he is now behind bars where he cannot harm others. 

“We hope McGowan’s victim is now receiving all available support. It is vital that all victims of abuse feel confident to speak out about their attackers and receive justice for the crimes carried out against them.”

Det Con Jeanine Atkins-Calver said: "“The crimes have had a significant impact on the victim and his family. 
“McGowan abused a position of trust and preyed on a vulnerable boy.” 

Adults concerned about the welfare of a child or non-recent abuse can call our helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk for support 24 hours a day. 

Reporting restrictions mean neither the school or the identity of the victim can be reported.

Anyone who does so will be in contempt of court.