- Teacher Bernadette Smith said to be infatuated with student Gary Ralston
- Obsession cost her job and her reputation, Stirling Sheriff Court heard
- He said: 'I was thinking I was quite lucky. A lot of the boys fancied her'
- Smith under supervision for two years as part of community payback order
A woman teacher who spent the night in a pupil’s bed wearing only her jeans and bra has narrowly avoided a prison sentence.
Bernadette Smith was said to be infatuated with Gary Ralston, who was 16 at the time.
That obsession cost the married 35-year-old her job and reputation, a court heard.
Abuse of trust: Sheriff Wyllie Robertson told Smith (left), 35, who kissed Gary, then 16, (right) and lay beside him wearing only jeans and a bra, that she had committed a serious abuse of trust. She was spared jail
He said: ‘I was thinking I was quite lucky. A lot of the boys fancied her. I couldn’t believe she was with me. It was the last thing I expected. She said she thought she was going crazy but couldn’t help the way she was feeling.’
Placing the mother of three under a supervision order yesterday, Sheriff Wyllie Robertson told her she had committed a serious abuse of trust.
He said it was only the fact that she had not gone further with the boy that had saved her from a jail sentence.
Gary revealed how his relationship with Smith, who was his teacher during third, fourth and fifth year, began during secret meetings at school.
‘When I started year six, Bernadette was no longer my teacher, but we’d pass each other in the corridor, say hello and smile,’ he said. He said that Smith later summoned him to her classroom.
‘I walked in and as soon as I sat down she said, “Ever since we’ve been back at school and I’ve seen you around, I’ve been realising I have feelings for you”,’ he said.
Sexual misconduct: Bernadette Smith, left and right leaving court, drove the boy to a park and kissed him
Describing himself as ‘curious’ and ‘excited’, Gary agreed to meet the history and English teacher on September 13 last year.
The pair drove to a park in Falkirk, Scotland, and went for a walk but when they got back to the car, Smith kissed him passionately.
Gary said he worried for Smith’s job, husband and family but said she ‘didn’t seem too bothered’.
He confided in his father, who warned him to be careful but his grandmother called Bannockburn High School to complain. Smith was suspended immediately.
Despite their relationship being made public, they stayed together the next night at Gary’s home in Cowie.
The affair started in Smith's classroom at Bannockburn High School, Stirling, where she confessed her feelings to the boy, before the pair went to a park and had their first kiss
‘We cuddled and talked – nothing else happened.’
His father Richard Ralston, 42, said: ‘I wasn’t pleased about what happened, but you’re an adult at 16 in Scotland so I didn’t want to interfere too much.
‘I want Gary to make decisions and learn from any mistakes.’
Prosecutor Ann Orr told Stirling Sheriff Court that when interviewed, Smith said ‘she loved the boy and they both wanted to be together’. She admitted kissing Gary and staying the night in his bedroom.
There was no suggestion that Gary had suffered any long-term harm, the court was told.
Smith, of Denny, Stirlingshire, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity with a pupil while in a position of trust, between September 13 and 20 last year.
Gary, now 17, revealed how his relationship with Smith, who was his teacher during his third, fourth and fifth years, blossomed during secret meetings at Bannockburn high school
She was placed under supervision for two years and will remain on the sex offenders’ register for the same period.Her solicitor, Andrew Gibb, said she was suspended by the General Teaching Council for Scotland and would be struck off at a hearing in a few weeks’ time. She has also separated from her husband.
Sheriff Robertson told the court Smith’s conduct was towards the lesser end of the offending scale, adding: ‘It is serious enough of course when a teacher admits this kind of conduct towards a pupil.
'We expect teachers to ensure children under their care are safe from abuse and that has not happened.’
He told Smith that it may have been that ‘difficulties within your marriage contributed to this aberration’, but he said many other teachers coped without resorting to such ‘bizarre’ behaviour.
He said it was to her ‘credit’ that she had not blamed her victim and she was assessed as at low risk of re-offending. He ordered her to return to court on November 12 for a supervision order review.