March 2022

Henlow teaching assistant jailed after having sex with pupil in Dunstable car park

A teaching assistant that groomed and then engaged a 14-year-old pupil into sexual intercourse in a supermarket car park has been jailed for six years

And not only did the woman deny the offences, she then claimed he had raped her. 

Hannah Harris, 23 tricked the boy’s parents into believing he was seeing a girl of the same age, by pretending to be her mother.

When Harris, who worked at a school in Hoddesdon, Herts, contacted the boy’s parents, at his suggestion, she claimed to be called Olivia.

She told them she lived in Baldock, Herts with her daughter Kayla, who was their son’s girlfriend.

In one text Harris wrote: “Seems Kayla and [the boy] are getting on well, so I am happy to ferry them around.”

Prosecutor Simon Wilshire told St Albans Crown Court: “Both parents believed they had spoken to Olivia on the phone and his mum had exchanged texts.

“The names Kayla and Olivia were fictions to hide the fact they were meeting up.

“The parents were in fact talking to Ms Harris as that was the number they had been given for Olivia.”

Harris was caught out in January 2020 when the boy’s older brother found out. The boy admitted ‘Olivia’ and ‘Kayla’ were fictional.

Mr Wilshire said: “When the parents became aware, they realised they had unwittingly facilitated the contact. They had been duped by the boy into the belief he was seeing someone of his own age.”

He went on: “As a teaching assistant at his school she (Harris) would have known his age – such activity is a criminal offence regardless of whether he believed himself to be a willing party.”

Mr Wiltshire said that in a victim impact statement the boy said Harris’ defence case stated that he had raped her had “made him feel dirty”.

He said the teenager had been unable to focus on his studies. He was on medication for anxiety and depression.

Harris, from Harrier Mill, Henlow, Beds, denied four charges of sexual activity with a child in December 2019 and January 2020.

She was convicted by a jury of having sex with the boy in her Mercedes A200 in a Wilko’s car park in Dunstable.

The jury cleared her of three other charges of sexual activity with him. They were alleged to have taken place twice on Dunstable Downs and once at her home.

The Court heard when the boy sent her a sexual image via Snapchat she sent a naked picture of herself back to him.

On her phone, the police found that “teacher-pupil sex” searches had been carried out, something another boy at the school had known.

Mr Wilshire said that Harris, who sobbed in the dock, had shown no remorse for the offence when she was interviewed by a probation officer for a pre-sentence report.

Harris was first employed in 2018 in the IT department at the school and moved to become a Teaching Assistant in 2019.

When questioned by the police, she said the first contact was initiated when he sent her an Instagram message. She said she stupidly replied and communication continued until she agreed to meet him outside school hours.

Judge Caroline Wigin told her: “He was particularly vulnerable.

“At the school in November 2019, you were warned about inappropriate discussions with pupils. It was clear you were someone who sought to identify with the pupils rather than staff members.

“In early January 2020, a friend warned you it was being said you fancied (the boy). You told her that was not true

“On 10th January you were warned by a member of staff who had observed you with a pupil acting as if you were a couple of teenagers and flirting. You had been play fighting.

“You disregarded all the warnings you had. He found you attractive and sent you messages on your social media. You were aware any such messages should have been reported to senior staff.

“Having had some response from you he was enthusiastic to pursue what he saw was a relationship. You groomed him. You took him in your car for trips, took him to the supermarket, bought his favourite sweets, bought him ice cream and took him to McDonald’s. You smoked cannabis he had purchased in your car.”

The judge told Harris her actions amounted to grooming. She said that when her account had gone through the school that he had raped her it had a devastating effect on him.

Harris must register as a sex offender for life and is banned from ever working with children.