A NSW teacher who said she had no intention of having sex with a schoolboy but just wanted to be told she was pretty has been jailed for at least two years and three months for grooming the teenager.
Katie Smith, 28, pleaded guilty to grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity, indecently assaulting a person under 16 and intentionally sexually touching a child aged between 10 and 16.
They exchanged sexually explicit images and videos of themselves on Snapchat and she kissed him twice, in a school storeroom and in a carpark, while touching him intimately outside his clothing.
In sentencing her in the District Court in Newcastle on Friday, Judge Kara Shead accepted Smith was driven by a desire for male attention, not sexual gratification.
The Hunter Valley former PE teacher sobbed after the judge jailed her for three years and 10 months with a non-parole period of two years and three months.
Judge Shead noted that a non-publication order on Smith's name, made in the Local Court, ceased upon imposition of her sentence.
When police went to her home she had contacted the boy telling him they would get into trouble and to delete her number.
Reports tendered to the court said Smith stated she had not been aroused by her offending but craved male attention, having a need for "validation" as she was having problems with her husband.
She also said she hated the word "grooming", had no intention of having sex with the schoolboy and "I just wanted to be told I was pretty".
She had "always wanted attention and cuddling" and "would do anything and everything to get attention".
Smith said she had been involved in a cycle of online sexual encounters, feeling lonely and seeking validation, but then hating herself before returning to the same behaviour.
She had suffered from eating issues and had a fixation with her appearance, sometimes crying when looking at herself in the mirror.
Judge Shead accepted Smith had a borderline personality disorder, but said this did not reduce her moral culpability.
Smith had been undergoing therapy, which would not be available in custody.
But the judge noted the "absolute prohibition on sexual activity with a child" and the serious breach of trust involved in Smith's conduct.
She had preyed on the victim and exploited his vulnerability.
Smith posed a low risk of reoffending and had reasonable prospects of rehabilitation,.
Courts must send "a stern message" that sexual crimes against children, particularly by teachers, is unacceptable, the judge said.