The Blenheim teacher who admitted sexually abusing two schoolboys has been jailed - but still cannot be named as she continues the fight to keep her identity a secret.

She is understood to be the first female teacher in New Zealand convicted and sentenced for sexual offending against students.

And it was confirmed in court that the woman did not dispute having sexual relationships with other older boys.

But she has not been charged with any further offences to date.


The 37-year-old appeared in the Blenheim District Court this afternoon and was sentenced to two years and six months in jail for her offending.

She has also been placed on the child sex offender's register.

Sex offending Blenheim school teacher faces Christmas, 10 years in prison

She had earlier pleaded guilty to a raft of charges relating to two teenage boys who she sexually abused, often in cars parked in public places, and in school lunch breaks.

In court her lawyer sought a term of home detention but Tasman Crown Solicitor Mark O'Donoghue said that would be inadequate given the gravity of the offending.

He said if she were a man and the victims were schoolgirls community sentence would not have even been tabled.

Judge Tony Zohrab said the offending was "a gross breach of trust".

He said no one should have been more attuned to the needs off young men growing up than a trained teacher.


"It's difficult enough without these sorts of things occurring," he said.

"Your role was a pastoral one ... you have seriously compromised your obligations."

The fight for suppression for disgraced teacher

The woman - a mother married to a police employee - was granted interim name suppression at an earlier court appearance.

Today she continued the fight to prevent media from identifying her.

Her lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC argued she should not be named on the basis of her mental health and the impact publication would have on her children.

He sought a permanent suppression but asked the court if it could be dealt with at a later date.

He said initially the Crown had supported suppression for his client but they had changed their stance recently which meant he had not had time to properly canvas his client's specific situation and prepare a full and proper application.

Eaton said his client had been "taken by surprise" by the change.

Crown Solicitor Mark O'Donoghue said the stance had changed because the woman had pleaded guilty and the case was "vastly different" since the interim order was made.

He said the victims opposed permanent suppression.

"Name suppression should be dealt with at sentencing … it is part of sentencing," he said.

Judge Zohrab refused to grant permanent suppression.

He said the threshold had not been met for extreme hardship and the community had a right to know the sex offender's identity.

He acknowledged the impact the decision would have on her children - who had been bullied and were suffering anxiety according to the family.

"I have reflected carefully on the material," he said.

"But I've also had to reflect on what is extreme hardship … I am left with concluding I see no basis that I can make a final ruling for suppression of your name."

Eaton then indicated he would appeal the refusal in the High Court, meaning the woman's identity is automatically suppressed for 20 days.

If the appeal is not filed within that time, suppression will lapse.

The Crown and the Herald both opposed the order.

Herald counsel Robert Stewart said the community "needs to be informed".

He said a "very large proportion of the community" already knew the woman's identity.

To maintain suppression in those circumstances was "engaging in an exercise in futility".

The boys speak: 'I didn't want to do it'

In October the woman pleaded guilty to seven charges of unlawful sexual connection with minors, and one of exposing a minor to indecent material over a year-long period.

Some of the charges were representative, meaning the acts happened numerous times.

She was a teacher at Marlborough Boys' College at the time but has since had her teaching registration cancelled.

She admitted having sex with two 15-year-old boys in parked cars in public places, often telling one victim she loved him and showing them explicit videos.

The police summary of facts, supplied to the Herald by the court, revealed the woman had formed sexual relationships "with a number of students".

The prosecution relates to two of those boys.

In court today O'Donoghue said there were a number of aggravating factors, including the vulnerability of victims, age discrepancy between offender and victims, and duration of offending.

"She's gone out of her way to target them in a sexually exploitative way," he said.

"There was a significant breach of trust, (she) attempted to manipulate, coerce and control the victims with threats of self harm.

"This was sexually exploitative conduct by an adult ... she emotionally manipulated both boys."

O'Donoghue read from the main victim's impact statement.

"She made me worry about her as when I tried to stop what was happening she told me she would harm herself … this is not fair, she should not have put that burden on me," he wrote in the brief statement.

The second victim said in his statement: "I am ashamed."

He said when he tried to stop the abuse the woman locked herself in a car and started cutting herself with scissors.

"I did not want to do it anymore," he said.

The boys were not in court for the sentencing.

O'Donoghue said both came from families and cultural backgrounds where they were "private and reserved".

"It's hard to say stop to a person in authority, and it's even harder to stop it once it's started," he said.

In a letter to the court the woman referred to herself as a "sex offender".

"And that is what she is," O'Donoghue said.

Crown says sentence should not be lighter for women

O'Donoghue said the victims and their families opposed permanent name suppression.

"There is the potential for other victims to come forward if her name was published," he posed.

"Her name being published would lift suspicion from other teachers who have left the school.

"There is a police connection to this case … this is open justice, the whole process is transparent."

O'Donoghue revealed the woman had offered to make emotional harm reparation payment to the boys using money held in a family trust.

Both boys had rejected the money.

O'Donoghue sought a sentence of imprisonment for the woman,

"If this was a male offender doing this to schoolgirls aged 15 I don't know if we'd even be having this discussion," he said.

"Home detention would be a totally inadequate and disproportionate response to the scale of offending."

Defence says home detention most appropriate sentence

Eaton said his client was still struggling to comprehend and articulate why she offended.

"But the clear message is that she does take full responsibility for her offending," he said.

She wrote a letter intended for the victims, school and wider community.

In it she stated she was aware of the impact her offending - described as "disgusting" by locals - had on her town.

"I make no excuses for what I have done and I am here today to face the victims and the community," she wrote.

"I am ready to do that."

Eaton submitted the offending was "not degrading".

But Judge Zohrab called him out - saying surely a 15-year-old boy being involved in a three-way sex act in a car "with someone old enough to be his mother" had to be at least demeaning.

"I don't see that as vanilla sex," the judge said.

Eaton said the only aggravating factor was the boys' age.

He said they were big athletes and there was no degree of physical intimidation by their then teacher.

Judge Zohrab interrupted him and pointed out that might have been the case but they had "bodies of men, minds of children".

Eaton said the woman was not a classroom teacher for either of the boys but he accepted her breach of trust was "up there".

The woman's second defence lawyer Miriam Radich spoke about her "long-running struggles with mental illness".

She said the woman had done "her very best" to signal her genuine remorse and would continue to do so in future.

The offending would weigh heavily on her mind for the rest of her life, her lawyer said.

Radich read from the offender's letter.

"I would like to express my deep regret to the victims and their families … you were students and I was the teacher," she wrote.

"I am deeply sorry I have hurt you and brought shame to your families.

"It was only me that was in the wrong and you have nothing to be ashamed of."

She said she was "so sorry" the school had suffered because of her offending.

Radich said she would"for a long time" be "defined by and identified for" her offending.

However those who knew her were totally shocked and the offending went against everything they knew of her and her wider family's values.

She had no previous convictions, had excelled at uni and in her career and was known - before the offending came to light - as a community minded and highly contributing member of society.

Radich said the woman's husband stood by her.

The court heard that he believed the "disconnect" between her previous good character - including no previous convictions, exemplary parenting and donating her time to the community in various ways - and the offending could be put down to her mental health battle.

He said she was "heavily medicated" and seeing a clinical psychologist.

"She has difficulty regulating her emotions and becomes easily distressed," that psychologist said.

The woman had a history of self-harm and felt worthless much of the time.

The woman's issues were "real" and Radich asked the court to take that into consideration.

Eaton sought a sentence of home detention, saying the woman had "demonstrated powerfully" her "extraordinary remorse" and had done everything she could to right her wrongs.

He said her career, her family, "herself" had been destroyed.

Her fall from grace had been tremendous and the public interest was enough of a punishment.

"It's not a case that the community needs protection," he said.

He said home detention would be the most appropriate sentence to allow the woman to rehabilitate.

The final sentence - a Judge's call

After hearing more than an hour of submissions from the Crown and defence, Judge Zohrab made his decision.

He read the summary of facts aloud and people in the public gallery looked shocked and distressed at times.

The offender sat listening, showing little emotion.

Judge Zohrab said it was vital to hand down a sentence that deterred and denounced sexual offending against children, and held criminals accountable.

He had to be consistent with similar cases, but give the least restrictive punishment.

He said the most significant aggravating factor was how the woman came to meet the boys.

"You were a teacher ... this is not a situation of you being a young female teacher ... you were a mature woman, you had a senior leadership role in the community," he said.

"Parents were sending their children to the college to be educated and nurtured ... you have breached that trust."

Further, he said the woman used her mental health to manipulate the boys.

The abuse was "demeaning".

"Effectively there was grooming and premeditation on your part over a long period of time," Judge Zohrab said.

He set a starting point of five years and eight months in prison for the woman.

He then gave her discounts for her guilty plea, previous good character and "unblemished life", "genuine remorse", offer of "tangible endeavours to make amends", including significant reparation payments.

While they were turned down by the boys, the offer and money will remain on offer for the future.

Judge Zohrab also gave her a small discount for her mental health issues on a "humanitarian and merciful basis".

He reached a final sentence of two years and six months - outside the range of home detention.

A fall from grace - how a teacher was caught sex offending

In court today the woman was supported by her sister.

A number of friends and other supporters packed the public gallery, joined by police and members of the local legal community.

The woman sat quietly in the dock, looking drawn and sombre.

She initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but in October she admitted the offending.

The court heard she started to send the first victim text messages when he was just 14.

The pair spent increasing amounts of time together and became "flirty".

Eventually the relationship became sexual, with the teacher leading the boy into escalating intimate activity.

When he tried to end the "relationship" she would tell him she would kill herself.

She would send him explicit photographs and video-called him from her home, exposing her breasts and genitals.

The abuse of the second boy began when the first victim engaged him in an online chat with him and the teacher.

The three had a sexual connection the next day and the abuse of the second victim continued after that.

When arrested, the sex offender refused to speak to police.

After she pleaded guilty the woman was convicted by Judge David Ruth, who also issued a first-strike warning.

The Herald sought an interview with Blenheim police about the offending, arrest and prosecution which has been extremely high profile.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan refused.

"Marlborough police will not be making any comment on this," he said via email.

"Media from police if any will come from the police media hub."

The Herald then sought comment from Police National Headquarters.

"I have now had an opportunity to speak with the appropriate staff regarding this matter," a spokeswoman said.

"I can advise that police won't be making any comments following the sentencing for this matter."

They refused to say if new complainants had come forward and made allegations or if further charges relating to other boys were likely.

The principal in place at the school when the woman's offending took place has recently resigned and he did not respond to requests for comment.

The Board of Trustees Chair indicated he would provide a statement to the Herald after the sentence was given.

The Ministry of Education would not be drawn on the judicial process.

"The safety and wellbeing of students is a top priority for us, as it is for boards of trustees, parents and whānau," a spokesperson said.

"In the case of Marlborough Boys' College, we continue to offer our support to the school and its board if needed."


If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.​

If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on:

• Text 4334 and they will respond

• Email

• Visit for an online chat

Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.

If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.