Former teacher Mark Blackie jailed for sexually abusing pupils at Scarborough school

A former Scarborough teacher has been jailed for 10 years for sexually abusing five schoolgirls, one of whom he tried to rape in a store cupboard.

By Court Reporter
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 5:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 9:20 pm

Mark Blackie, 32, was working as an English teacher at a secondary school in Scarborough when he “preyed” on the teenage girls, leaving one of the victims feeling suicidal.

Blackie, once a highly respected teacher noted for his professionalism, denied 10 separate allegations - including one of attempted rape, sexual assaults and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity - but he was found guilty of all charges following a trial at York Crown Court in January.

He appeared for sentence via video link today after being remanded in Hull Prison. Throughout the hearing, he sat stony-faced in the custody suite and took written notes.

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Mark Blackie 'preyed' on four teenage girls at the school where he worked, York Crown Court heard.

The Scarborough News could not report the trial at the time due to the potential for a second trial concerning another alleged schoolgirl victim. However, prosecutor Michael Morley said that following consultation with the alleged victim, he was content to allow those allegations to lie on court file.

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, duly lifted reporting restrictions after the prosecution confirmed there would not be a second trial.

'Huggy' behaviour

The court heard how Blackie, who was renowned for his “huggy” behaviour with schoolgirls, showered the victims with compliments before sexually assaulting them.

Mark Blackie was jailed for 10 years.

He took one of the girls to one side and commented on the colour of her bra, telling her she “shouldn’t wear it to school” and offering to help her revise for her exams.

“Later on that day, they were alone in (Blackie’s) office (when) he offered her hot chocolate,” said Mr Morley.

Blackie called her a “pretty girl” and gave her a hug, which she thought was “alright” but as she tried to move away, he squeezed her “tight” on her “top half”. Then he started rubbing her leg.

He told the girl: “I don’t think you should tell anyone about this because it’s a bit weird.”

Another victim was sexually assaulted in a classroom. Blackie told her she was “one of the good ones” before rubbing her leg under her skirt and grabbing her thigh.

The girl told the school’s support officer that there were other incidents in which Blackie had “touched her in ways she thought were inappropriate”.

Kissed her

In a separate incident the following year, Blackie tried to rape one of the victims in a store cupboard. The girl had gone to see him in his classroom because she was upset about something, and she trusted him.

The two of them were alone and Blackie hugged her. The girl, who was in “floods of tears”, thought nothing of the hug because Blackie had always been known as a “very huggy person”.

Mr Morley said he started to hug her again. "He rested his head on hers and said, ‘If anyone sees me hugging you like this, I’ll get into so much trouble.

“After his class, he invited her to stay with him. He hugged her and kissed her on her head. She was confused.”

Blackie then touched her on an intimate part of her body. He complimented her on her figure and said if he was younger she would be his, added Mr Morley. “She didn’t know what to do.”

Blackie told her they “needed to get a room” and led her outside the classroom to a store cupboard which he unlocked and “ushered her inside”.

“He followed her in and closed the door,” said Mr Morley. Blackie then kissed and sexually assaulted her. The girl was “frozen”.

He then unzipped his trousers and asked her to perform a lewd act on him. The girl refused, at which point he tried to rape her. He then unlocked the door and looked out “to see if anyone was outside”.

“He told her to go,” added Mr Morley.

“Later, he came to speak to her in the library. He took her aside and told her she couldn’t tell anyone about what had happened or he would get arrested.”

The following day, the girl told a teacher about what had occurred in the store cupboard.

She told police about how good Blackie was at his job and “how professional he was”, and how she “never thought in a million years that he would do something like this”.

She said that other pupils had talked about his “hugging or touching students”.

Heard other pupils

Another schoolgirl said Blackie had summoned her into his classroom as she was walking down the corridor. He started questioning her about her schoolwork, then touched her leg and gripped her thigh under her skirt. He then heard other pupils outside the classroom and sent her out.

The girl said there had been previous incidents where he would touch her back and stroke her hair.

“It made her feel uncomfortable and weird,” said Mr Morley.

Another victim said she had been sexually assaulted on two occasions. In the first incident, Blackie gave her a “tight hug” because she was upset, before kissing her on the forehead.

In the second incident, he touched her on the leg and her back as he was “explaining something to her”.

Mr Morley said that Blackie, of East Lutton, near Malton, had “taken advantage of his position of authority in his job and as a teacher in order to sexually abuse these children”.

The girl whom Blackie tried to rape said she had felt suicidal and would never be able to “trust anybody fully again”.

“I lie awake at night, day after day, wondering if it was my fault,” she added.

Her mother said the repercussions of Blackie’s wicked actions had been “devastating and far-reaching” for her entire family.

Career in ruins

Robin Frieze, for Blackie, said the disgraced former teacher’s career was now in ruins and it was “completely his own fault”.

He said Blackie had put his own family through “trauma”.

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, told Blackie: “The school [which he named] was, and still is, an excellent school with a fine reputation (and) your behaviour must not be allowed to tar that reputation.

“No-one could have predicted this happening. I’ve heard testimonials from parents…about what a good teacher you were, but nobody knew that inside that good teacher there lurked a darker side – a physical liking for young, adolescent girls and you indulged yourself…and you took advantage (of the victims).”

Blackie showed no emotion as he was jailed for 10 years. He was told he would have to serve two-thirds of that sentence behind bars.

He was also placed on the sex-offenders’ register for life and given a 10-year sexual harm prevention order.

Mr Morris paid tribute to the “highly professional” investigative work by North Yorkshire Police, and in particular Det Con Beverley Garbutt, in bringing Blackie to justice.

He commended DC Garbutt to the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire “for some very good police work indeed”.

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Wright said afterwards: “Mark Blackie abused his position of trust in the worst way, preying on his victims when they were at their most vulnerable.”