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'I only wanted attention' - teacher accused of having sex with boy (16)


Teaching assistant Helen Turnbull arriving at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough

Teaching assistant Helen Turnbull arriving at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough

Teaching assistant Helen Turnbull arriving at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough

A teaching assistant accused of having sex with a pupil told police she sent him a picture of herself in her underwear "for attention", a court has heard.

Helen Louise Turnbull, 35, admitted to detectives that she may have told the 16-year-old she loved him at the end of drunken internet messages.

In a police interview, she said the boy had cheered her up during the break-up of her marriage to husband Ben, with whom she has two children.

But the literacy assistant from Haswell, County Durham, told police that their relationship went no further than kissing at two secret meetings on an industrial estate in her black Mini convertible.

She has pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child while being in a position of trust - the kissing - but denies three further counts relating to allegations that they had sex and on two further occasions, that she performed a sex act and oral sex on him.

After she was arrested, Turnbull, who studied law and international politics at Keele University, told Detective Constable Kimberley Walker that they began sending messages via Facebook and iMessenger.

Her husband was frequently away with work, and she was lonely and drinking "too much" once her children were in bed, Teesside Crown Court heard.

She said the schoolboy "could make me laugh or cheer me up" as they swapped messages.

She told the police: "He was the one keen to get me to like him, he was the one with all the compliments and I was more wary."

They met on an industrial estate and had an "awkward" hug, then chatted about music and about his life. They then kissed before parting, she said.

"He went to kiss me," she told the interviewer. "I went back because I was a bit shocked.

"It lasted for a couple of seconds then I dropped him off at the bus stop and drove off."

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Turnbull, known at school as Miss Robson, agreed she sent the boy a picture of herself in her underwear on a later occasion.

"I think it was for the attention," she said.

She admitted to feeling "needy" and arguing with the boy a lot in messages.

She told the officer: "I feel like I trusted him and I have been an idiot."

She denied she was in love with the teenager.

Asked if she was at the time, Turnbull replied: "Not really. It was just someone to build me up when I felt broken."

And when she was asked if she would tell him she loved him, she replied: "I cannot remember. Maybe at the end of drunken messages. Certainly not in person."

The boy told police she had threatened that she could get him shot by a prominent local family, but she claimed it was a joke that he had misunderstood.

The detective asked Turnbull if she found the pupil attractive.

"Not any more," she replied. "It is not a physical attraction, it was more that he made me feel good at the time, when I felt really low and vulnerable."

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