A music teacher who called students a “fair game” has been jailed for 11 years for sexually abusing and raising six girls.
Matthew Birch, 45, raped two victims and had sex with another despite his trust in schools in Lanarkshire and Fife.
The 45-year-old former police officer was initially described as a “fun teacher” and a “father’s figure”.
But, the judges heard how he targeted vulnerable girls with musical skills – citing “fair play” in a text.
He was arraigned in Glasgow High Court today.
The 11-year sentence handed down by Judge William Gilcher was equivalent to Birch’s abuse.
He had previously been in a position of trust between 2006 and 2017 and was convicted of nine counts, including rape and sexual assault.
The judge told Birch: “You have been convicted of horrific crimes related to the upbringing, molestation and abuse of the girls about whom you were in a position of confidence.
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“You looked for girls who had problems or troubles in their lives.
“Under the pretext of supporting them, you brought them under your control.”
He added that he had to account for “past, present and lasting effects” that Birch had on the victims.
A large number of people attended today’s hearing and started crying because their abuser was sent to jail.
In an unusual move after sentencing, Judge Gallacher thanked him for returning to court after resuming his trial during the trial.
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He was reluctant to comment after the case.
The judges heard how embarrassed the teacher was when she joined Lanarkshire School in 2006.
In his closing remarks, Prosecutor Erin Campbell said: “He systematically targeted vulnerable students, befriended them, and made himself a secret in their lives.”
Birch is said to have told a young man that his “bomb looks good”.
Another apparently “got into bed” when he commented on one of the student’s breasts.
He was apprehended when his last victim went to his former head teacher and an investigation was launched.
Falkirk’s Birch denied the allegations. But a jury found him guilty of nine counts, including rape, between 2006 and 2017.
Defending, Gordon Martin said the married birch maintained its innocence.
The lawyer added: “He intends to appeal against the sentence.”
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