A St Mary teacher escaped serving a prison term after he received a suspended sentence for pleading guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old student.

Sheldon Murphy, a resident of Gayle, in St Mary, was on Monday sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years in the St Mary Circuit Court after pleading guilty March 20.

The fired physical education teacher, who is in his 20s, was taken into custody December 9, 2015, after the school’s principal was called to a building on the compound where the teacher was reportedly found with the student who was hiding in a closet.

While Murphy’s sentencing was conducted in-camera before Justice Sarah Thompson-James. According to Loop News several factors accounted for Murphy’s receiving a three-year suspended sentence.

The factors include Murphy losing his job as a result of his actions and cannot gain employment within his profession.

The judge also took into account that Murphy had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity presented to him, which indicated remorse, and that he didn’t waste the court’s time.

Murphy was also saved by the fact that he had no previous convictions, and that the community spoke well of him in a social enquiry report.

Murphy’s sentence of five years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years, means that he’ll not go to prison.

However, if he’s convicted for an offence within the next three years, he’ll have serve the five-year prison term in addition to the sentence for the new charge.

Thompson-James also ordered that Murphy be supervised as a condition of his sentence.

Reports at the time indicated that Murphy was seen entering his cottage near the school with the 14-year-old female student. The principal was alerted — and upon going to the teacher’s cottage with another senior staffer — found the teacher inside and the student hiding in a closet.

He was subsequently arrested and charged.