April 2023

Cheshire woman groomed boy while working at children’s home

A Runcorn care officer engaged in sexual activity with a teenage boy who was living at a children’s home she was working at.

Alysha Friel, of Grangemoor, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court for sentencing after she admitted grooming and sexual activity with a child. 

The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to six counts of being an adult abusing a position of trust by engaging in sexual activity with a boy aged between 13 and 17, and four counts of being an adult abusing a position of trust causing or inciting sexual activity with a boy aged between 13 and 17

Callum Ross, prosecuting, detailed that in 2019, Friel, then 23, worked as a residential child care officer at a children’s home, and the victim was a looked-after boy at that facility.

He said: “The complainant disclosed that in 2020, the defendant began flirting with him.

“They then would go to the cinema and the complainant described how they had kissed on multiple occasions. The complainant disclosed that he believed they were – to use his words – in a relationship.”

Mr Ross told the court that 26-year-old Friel and the victim engaged in sexual activity with each other on multiple occasions, over the course of months.

Text messages between Friel and the teenager were also referenced in court, including discussions of their sexual intercourse, feelings towards each other, and mention of Friel “wanting” the victim.

The victim also told the defendant he was “addicted” to her. The pair went on holiday together, but weeks after returning, the victim told Friel he “didn’t want to do this anymore” and asked her to quit her job.

Mr Ross said the victim told another member of staff at the facility that he had engaged in sexual activity with the defendant, and showed a number of Instagram messages between the two of them.

The children’s home called the police and Friel was suspended with immediate effect.

During an interview with police, the mum-of-two immediately admitted the sexual activity.

In sentencing, Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: “You were 23, he was vulnerable to the extent that he was the subject of a full care order, and had been placed at that home.

“You initiated a wholly inappropriate relationship with him. He had become somewhat infatuated or obsessed with you and believed you were in a relationship, but he then ended it.

Judge Trevor-Jones described the relationship as the “corruption of what was a young and vulnerable victim.”

Friel was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 35 rehabilitation days plus 100 hours of unpaid work.

She was also told to pay £300 in prosecution costs, the victim surcharge, and will be subject to notification order.