The father of a teaching assistant who had sex with a 14-year-old schoolboy in a car park has said ‘she just wanted help’ as the family plot to appeal her conviction.
The teacher, Hannah Harris, 23, had sex with the pupil in the supermarket car park after contacting his parents posing as the mother of his fictional girlfriend to hide their relationship. She cried in the dock as she was convicted of a single count of engaging in sexual activity with a child by a majority verdict at St Albans Crown Court yesterday.
Her father, Jason, today defended his daughter and insisted ‘we’re not giving up on her’.
He told The Sun: ‘I don’t believe what came out in court. She shouldn’t have been doing that job. She was too young.
‘She was in that job because she wanted to help people, that’s what she does, she helps people.
‘She’s very very good-natured. Anyone she’s ever worked for before and still working for now speak very highly of her. And she is still working now.’
Harris told the boy’s parents she lived in Baldock, Hertfordshire, with her fictional daughter Kayla, whom she claimed was their son’s girlfriend.
In one text to the boy’s parents, she wrote: ‘Seems Kayla and (the boy) are getting on well, so I am happy to ferry them around.’
Their relationship was uncovered in January 2020 by the boy’s older brother after the 14-year-old admitted to his sibling that both ‘Olivia’ and ‘Kayla’ were fictional.
Mr. Wiltshire 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.’
The prosecutor added: ‘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.’
Harris was first employed by the school in 2018 to work within the IT department, before moving into a teaching assistant role in 2019.
When questioned by detectives, 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.
Harris, of Henlow, Bedfordshire, denied four counts of sexual activity that were alleged to have taken place twice on Dunstable Downs, once at her home and once in the supermarket car park between December 2019 and January 2020.
A jury convicted her of one of the counts by a majority of 10 to two on Monday. February 7.
Following the verdict, defence 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 cried in the dock, for sentencing on March 9. 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.’