A music teacher who raped two pupils and abused other girls has been jailed for 11 years.
A judge said Matthew Birch, 45, had carried out dreadful crimes on girls that he had sought out because of difficulties in their lives.
Last December, he was convicted of raping two pupils and having sex while in a position of trust at schools in North Lanarkshire and Fife.
Birch’s offending had involved six female pupils.
Jailing the former police officer at the High Court in Glasgow, judge William Gallacher said: “You sought out girls who had difficulties or problems in their lives.
“In the pretext of supporting them, you brought them under your influence.”
A number of his victims attended the hearing and sobbed with relief as their abuser was jailed.
In a rare move after sentencing, Judge Gallacher thanked them for returning to court having relived their ordeals at trial.
Birch had insisted during his trial that nothing inappropriate had taken place but he was found guilty of nine charges which took place between 2006 and 2017
Jurors were told he was initially regarded by his pupils as a “fun teacher”.
But prosecutor Erin Campbell said he had systematically targeted vulnerable, female pupils, befriended them and positioned himself in their lives as a confidante.
The trial also heard how he referred to one girl in a text as “fair game”.
Birch told one of the pupils he was a part-time photographer and suggested taking photographs of her to boost her self-esteem.
Instead, he went to her home and raped the teenager.
Birch then turned his attention to another girl and had sex with her at his then flat in Edinburgh while his girlfriend was out.
Jurors heard that further sexual activity with the girl took place in a cupboard at school and on a trip with other pupils.
He targeted another pupil when he moved to a different school in Fife, raping her at his new home in Falkirk.
The High Court in Glasgow heard that the pupil later described her ordeal to a principal teacher who was Birch’s friend.
But the court heard the teacher did not report it and instead went straight to Birch.
Police were only alerted when the pupil returned to the school the following year and spoke to the head teacher.