A POPULAR teacher’s career lies in ruins after he was arrested for sending a teenage girl explicit text messages, a court has heard.
Daniel Cochrane said he had lost his job at Lord Lawson Academy in Birtley, Gateshead, and lost his friends at Gateshead Rugby Club, following his arrest in August 2011.
Cochrane, who was married last month, accepts he sent explicit messages to the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but insists he believed she was older than her 15 years.
The 36-year-old of Corsair in Whickham, Gateshead, denies inciting a child to engage in a sexual activity by encouraging her to send explicit messages.
His former team-mate at Gateshead RFC, Christian Selkirk, 23, denies having sex with a child between April and June 2011.
Selkirk, of St Cuthbert’s Avenue, Chester-le-Street, also claims he thought the girl was older, even though a text he sent to her after she told him she feared she may be pregnant said he was worried he “may go to jail”.
Asked by Julie Clemitson, prosecuting: “Did you realise then she was under 16?” Cochrane replied: “That was probably the drift of it. It was so long ago.”
Cochrane said sending the graphic texts was “the biggest mistake of my life”.
He claimed he was motivated first by “winding Christian up” but later by “titillation”, adding: “It is the reason 50 Shades of Grey is such a best-selling book.”
He told Durham Crown Court: “I have lost my job, lost my friends at rugby.”
When asked by his barrister, Tom Moran, whether he wished to continue a career in teaching, he replied: “I would love to, but due to the nature of the allegations I don’t think its going to happen.”
The jury heard glowing character references for Cochrane, who was described by former Lord Lawson colleague Philip Welch as “a professional, honest, dedicated man of high integrity”.
Other referees spoke of his dedication to his students, his popularity and his organisational skills when he organised rugby tours from the school to South Africa and Los Angeles.
He taught PE at Lord Lawson and also took a sixth-form tutorial group. At weekends, he turned out for Gateshead Rugby Club.
Cochrane claimed under cross-examination that he mis-dialled a text to the girl when he told her to “wait until she was 16” before “getting dirty”.
He claimed he thought she was a “college girl” of 17 or 18 and said: “Now I know her age it’s horrible.”
The case continues.