Blenheim teacher convicted of sex with students granted parole after 10 months in prison

  • 06/11/2020

A former Blenheim teacher convicted for having sex with her students has been granted parole after 10 months in prison. 

The parole board confimed Jaime Cooney will be released later this month, telling Newshub in a statement: "There will be conditions." 

Cooney was sentecned to two years and six months in jail in the Blenheim District Court in December 2019.

The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to seven charges of sexual connection with two 15-year-old boys in during the trial. In February, Cooney abandoned her bid for name suppression.

The former school Wellness Coordinator became eligible for parole on October 17 2020 and had her first hearing on October 7 when the decision was deferred until November 6. 

Court documents say Cooney was a "model prisoner" who had "undertaken her own work" to address her offending.

It was noted Cooney "acknowledges" she needs more treatment but her parole submission states the necessary treatment is "unavailable" to her in prison.

The documents also cite her level of "extensive community support" including her two young children as a reason for parole.

Before the first hearing the court received written submissions from Cooney's councillor alongside oral submissions on the day. 

In sentencng, Judge Tony Zohrab told Cooney her year-long actions of grooming and premeditation deserved consequences. 

Cooney's relationship with one of the victims included texting, with her asking if he needed a ride to school.

The communication outside of the classroom became more frequent and the pair spent their lunches together.

Cooney invited the boy into her car where they had sex multiple times. She also sent him naked photos and videos via Snapchat and Facetime.

At one point the student added another boy into a group chat with Cooney. The trio started speaking sexually before meeting up in Cooney's car and all having sex. 

When her first victim attempted to end the relationship, Cooney continued to message him and tell him she loved him.

At her sentencing in December, Zohrab gave discounted time for Cooney's guilty pleas, her good character and remorse, her offers of reparation and restorative justice and her mental health,

However Cooney's case also had aggravating features including the age difference, the frequency of her offending, her position of power and the fact she had two victims.