A HEADTEACHER who “flirted” with a 16-year-old girl was told by a judge to prepare himself for a prison sentence.

The warning was given to John Stubbins after he admitted a further charge over an indecent image he persuaded the girl to send him of herself, which he stored on his computer.

Durham Crown Court heard he had already pleaded guilty to three charges involving the same girl when he appeared before Newton Aycliffe magistrates, last month.

During that hearing he admitted two counts of causing or inciting a child aged 14 to 17 to participate in pornography, involving him persuading the girl to send the images, and possessing the 16 indecent photos, classed in category C for such material. The latest charge relates to possession of an indecent photo in category B.

All the offences involved the girl, who was not a pupil at the County Durham primary school where he worked, in February and March last year.

When arrested, in March 2017, the father-of-two was suspended, “with immediate effect”.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, told the court: “Effectively he engaged in flirting with her and, over a course of time, he encouraged her to send indecent images of herself and, ultimately, he retained these images on his computer.”

Judge Christopher Prince said he would adjourn sentencing the 44-year-old defendant to allow for preparation of a background report by the Probation Service.

But, he told Stubbins’ counsel, David Comb: “In doing so, it should not be seen as any indication as to the outcome of the case.

“The defendant must expect to receive a custodial sentence, and, of course, he has been subject to the sex offender provisions already, following his guilty pleas at the magistrates’ court.”

Adjourning for three weeks, Judge Prince agreed to bail Stubbins, of St Cuthbert’s Road, Gateshead, but he told him: “You should prepare and put your affairs in order to receive a custodial sentence when you return to court.”

His bail conditions include not contacting the girl and not to have unsupervised contact with those aged under16.

Speaking after the previous hearing, Margaret Whellans, Durham County Council’s corporate director for children’s services, said: “I would like to reassure parents and pupils that prompt action was taken and we have worked in partnership with police to assist with their criminal inquiries.

“Our schools operate robust safeguarding measures and, following the allegations and his arrest in March 2017, Mr Stubbins was suspended with immediate effect.”

Stubbins must return to the court to be sentenced on Friday June 8.