St Albans Crown Court heard of how Hannah Harris, 23, who worked at a school in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, contacted the boy’s parents pretending to be the mother of the teenager’s same-age girlfriend
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A teaching assistant who tricked her teenage victim’s parents into thinking he was seeing a girl his age by pretending to be her mother, has been found guilty.
St Albans Crown Court heard of how Hannah Harris, who worked at a school in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, contacted the boy’s parents, claiming to be called Olivia.
Harris, who is now 23, told them she lived in Baldock with her daughter Kayla, who was their son’s girlfriend, when she actually lived in Henlow and Kayla did not exist, reports Bedfordshire Live.
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 said: “Both parents believed they had spoken to Olivia on the phone and his mum had exchanged texts.
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“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 realized 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 offense regardless of whether he believed himself to be a willing party.”
Harris, from Harrier Mill, Henlow, denied four charges of sexual activity with a child in December 2019 and January 2020.
She was convicted by a jury majority of 10 to two of having sex with the boy in a supermarket car park. She was cleared of three other charges of sexual activity with him.
These were alleged to have taken place twice on Dunstable Downs and once at her home.
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 claimed 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.
After the verdict, defense barrister Julia Flanagan said Harris was now in a stable relationship. She said there had been concerns for her mental health, but she had returned to working in IT.
Judge Caroline Wigin bailed Harris, who was raised in the dock, for sentence on 9 March. She must abide by a curfew between 7pm and 7am.
The judge said she will also have to register as a sex offender and told her: “The sentence is inevitably going to be custody.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.