Sebastopol teacher jailed over indecent acts with student

A FORMER teacher at Sebastopol's Phoenix P-12 Community College who "groomed" a female student before committing multiple indecent acts with her, was jailed for more than two years today. 

Thomas Brian Holding, 54, was the girl's teacher in 2011 when he began a relationship with her that included buying her gifts, fondling and kissing her breasts.

Holding pleaded guilty on May 9 this year in the Ballarat County Court to four counts of an indecent act with a 16 or 17-year-old child.

In one incident Holding, who was 53 at the time, invited the 16-year-old student to his home while his wife and children were away.

The court heard that Holding tried to pull the victims pants down and kissed her on the breasts.

After this incident the girl emailed Holding saying what they were doing was wrong and that she was "too young."

Holding replied saying that no one ever needed to find out.

In another email read to the court Holding wrote to the girl "I'm looking forward to finding more tickly spots."

The court heard that the victims mother alerted the school that something sinister was going on after her daughter received gifts from Holding.

After been told by the school to stay away from the girl Holding set up a "covert" email account so they could continue to communicate.

In sentencing Holding, Judge Lance Pilgrim said he had displayed "classic grooming behaviour" and had used his position of power to manipulate a vulnerable young person.

"Your behaviour must be denounced in the strongest of terms," Mr Pilgrim said.

"The effect of this type of offending on young people is paramount."

Holding was moments away from being sentenced on May 27 this year when he vomited in the dock of the court and fainted.

Today, Judge Pilgrim was forced to take Holding's health into account after is was revealed he suffered irregular heart beats and high blood pressure.

"I assure you I am conscious of your health problems and have adjusted the sentence accordingly," he said.

Judge Pilgrim sentenced Holding to a total jail term of 27 months and placed him on the sex offenders register for life.

He will be eligible for parole in 15 months.