A FORMER Worcester teacher has been jailed for raping a vulnerable woman after confessing to the ‘terrible act’ in a string of text messages to his victim.

Michael Leydon, 61, previously of Diglis, Worcester, but now of Worthing, showed no emotion as he was sentenced to six years and six months in prison at Worcester Crown Court by Judge James Burbidge QC yesterday.

The judge told the former Nunnery Wood High School teacher: “In a single moment you lost leave of your senses.”

The history teacher’s career came to an end in 2017 when he retired to contest the allegations.

But a jury decided by majority verdict that he carried out the rape in 2014, holding the woman down by the shoulders and leaving bruises.

Judge Burbidge said of the rape: “She tried to push you away and said ‘no’ to you. It’s difficult to comprehend why you did that and I do not seek to do that.”

The prosecution case was that Leydon’s texts to the victim referred to the rape, including one in which he says his actions were ‘totally disgusting’ and ‘the result of drink tablets, and stress’.

In another message he wrote: “I’m sorry for what I did to you – you know I will never do it again.”

In one text he wrote: “What I did to you was my fault, albeit I did it on a cocktail of alcohol, sexual frustration and depression.”

In a victim impact statement, the woman, described by the judge as ‘troubled’, said she had suffered PTSD and had lost her confidence and self-worth in the wake of the rape.

She also said she suffered when the trial had to be adjourned in March due to Covid-19.  “I thought it was never going to end,” she said.

We have previously reported how the defendant was convicted by majority decision of a single count of rape and cleared of a second. The former school governor must sign the sex offender register for life. He must serve half the sentence in custody and half on licence.

As previously reported, the jury spent 11 hours and 8 minutes deliberating over three days when they returned a guilty verdict by a majority of 11 to one at Worcester Crown Court on August 19.

The case was adjourned by the judge after the verdict to allow the defendant to prepare for prison and put his affairs in order.

The jury had heard that the defendant stood by his son Christopher Leydon who was convicted of raping a boy under 13 and other sexual offences against the child in 2017. The judge accepted this had placed stress upon Michael Leydon.

The father-of-three was a teacher at Nunnery Wood High School between 1983 and 1989 but had also taught at schools in Redditch and Hereford.

His wife did not attend the hearing yesterday. When the guilty verdict for the 2014 rape was announced by the foreman at the last hearing in August his wife began to wail loudly and scrunched up a plastic bottle of water, throwing it to the floor before hurrying out of the public gallery.

She left the court before the jury had delivered a not guilty verdict on the second count, clearing him of another alleged rape.

Robert Tolhurst, defending Leydon, said: “It’s clearly a terrible, terrible act but it was a mistake at a time he was suffering with depression and monitoring the progress of his son’s case through the courts.”

The defendant suffers from depression, dyspraxia and macular degeneration which the barrister said was likely to deteriorate further while he is in prison without the same access to treatment.

The judge said the defendant’s behaviour during the rape was ‘quite different to how you conducted yourself throughout your life’.

He read 14 references supplied by his wife, children and former colleagues and the judge described him as a man of previous ‘exemplary good character’.

Judge Burbidge said: “It’s possible that night you consumed alcohol. That cannot explain the nature of the act let alone excuse it.”

He said of the texts he sent to his victim: “They appear to be an expression of regret and also you trying to comprehend why you did what you did because it was beyond comprehension.”

Referring to the victim, who had made attempts on her own life and suffered mental health problems, he said: “She was particularly vulnerable.”

However, he said: “You are not a controlling or predatory man.”

The judge expressed the hope that the victim could move on with her life in what had been the first jury trial at Worcester Crown Court since lockdown was imposed in March.

The trial had been due to start that month but had to be delayed until August because of the pandemic.