The female teachers who targeted pupils for sex and abused their position of trust

Rebecca Joynes
-Credit: (Image: GMP)

These are the teachers across the UK who abused their position of trust to groom and exploit children in their care before ending up in court after their sex crimes came to light.

The latest example is Rebecca Joynes who stood trial this month after being accused of having sex with two teenage boys. Following a trial the predator was found guilty of a string of sex offences on May 17. A court heard how the 30-year-old, who taught at a Greater Manchester school, allegedly laughed and told one teen to 'shut up' when they said: "I'm not old enough."

As reported by the Manchester Evening News, Joynes - who had a baby with a teenage boy - made the joke after picking up the pupil in her Audi before taking him to her home in Salford for sex. Following a two-week trial, she was convicted of four counts of sexual activity with a child and two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust. She will be sentenced in July.

Andrea Darling, a researcher at the criminology department at Durham University, studies women in positions of trust who sexually abuse children. Writing in The Conversation, back in 2017, she said 'inappropriate female teacher-pupil relationships need to be reported and presented in the same way they would be if the perpetrator was a male' - but also argued that many women involved in this type of offending 'do not fit the mould'.

She wrote: "More than 100 women were convicted of sexual offences in 2015. The figures, obtained via a freedom of information request, show the number of convictions almost trebled in a decade. Among those convicted were a number of school staff, including teachers, a head teacher and a teaching assistant.

"The attractive female teacher “seducing” the wide-eyed teenage pupil is a plot line that has recently featured in two popular TV shows: Ackley Bridge and Hollyoaks. This kind of story is often portrayed as a 'coming of age' experience but legally, a teacher engaging in any form of sexual relationship with a child under their care is abuse. And while it’s not spoken about very often, female perpetrated sexual abuse in schools does happen.

"Generally women involved in this type of teacher-pupil case do not fit the mould of what many consider a 'predatory paedophile', in that unlike other sex offenders they do not specifically enter their professions to access children. Instead my research has found that many (though not all) of these women appear to abuse because of their own unmet intimacy needs resulting from relationship problems and feelings of loneliness for example.

"These women are also different from other female sex offenders in that they are generally older, more affluent, have better social skills and less issues with substance abuse. Their behaviour is also to some extent influenced by the very situations they are working in."

Many will feel that women teachers should be judged in exactly the same way a male offender would be - as motivated by twisted sexual gratification.

However, the debate about what lies behind this type of offending, where female perpetrators are involved, can be expected to grow. That's because, while the vast majority of sex offenders are male and the vast majority of sex offences are committed against women and girls, the number of female perpetrators offending against children appears to be growing.

Between 2015 and 2019, the numbers of reported cases of female-perpetrated child sexual abuse to police in England and Wales rose from 1,249 to 2,297 - an increase of 84% - the BBC has reported.

Here we take a look back at some of the cases that shocked the nation...

Eppie Sprung

Eppie Sprung
Eppie Sprung -Credit:UGC

Eppie Sprung, who was caught half-naked with a male pupil in her car, admitted making "some really bad choices" in the past.

The former teacher was later struck off after she admitted having sex with a 17-year-old that she met while teaching English at St Joseph’s College in Dumfries. After pleading guilty to a breach of trust over the affair, she was added to the sex offenders register with a six-month community payback order

The mother-of-two, 37, later told the Herald on Sunday she takes full responsibility for her actions in 2012 - and is still dealing with the consequences.

Siobhan McLean

Siobhan McLean
Siobhan McLean -Credit:Daily Record

Teacher Siobhan McLean dodged jail after having sex with a 15-year-old pupil in her car. The 33-year-old met the boy in her role as head of pupil support at a secondary school in South Lanarkshire.

She had been helping his relative apply for university courses as well as taking study classes which the boy attended. McLean later contacted him on social media and they began exchanging messages before they had sex in a flat following a night out.

They had sex for a second time in her BMW motor in a car park at Craignethan Castle near Blackwood, Lanarkshire, in September 2022. McLean, of Airdrie, Lanarkshire, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court and admitted engaging in sexual activity and was ordered her to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and put her under supervision for three years.

Caroline Berriman

Teaching assistant Caroline Berriman initially walked free from court despite having sex with a teenage pupil at a Manchester school up to '80 times'. In 2014 Berriman, then 30, of Chadderton, Oldham, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child and a further charge of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.

She was handed a two-year sentence, suspended for two years, at Minshull Street Crown Court alongside 250 hours of unpaid community work. But the Court of Appeal later quashed the two-year suspended sentence and gave her an immediate sentence of two years behind bars.

Lydia Beattie-Milligan

In September 2019, teaching assistant Lydia Beattie-Milligan, 43, was found guilty of arranging to meet a child following sexual grooming. The married mum-of-two, who had worked in education for 25 years, intended to spend a Saturday night alone with her victim, who suffered from anxiety issues, in Haydock.

A jury heard her texts to a friend about buying sexy underwear and giving him a lap dance, ahead of 'major f***ing'. She befriended the student, changed the way she dressed to catch his attention, and they exchanged mobile phone numbers.

Beattie-Milligan, of Lydiate in Merseyside, was jailed for two years, ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.

Kandice Barber

Kandice Barber
Caroline Berriman

Supply teacher Kandice Barber was sentenced to six years and two months in 2021 after being found guilty of engaging a child in sexual activity. The mum-of-three's grooming came to light when a topless picture she had sent her victim was seen by so many people it ended up on the head's desk and she was locked up.

During the trial, the judge blasted the 37-year-old, of Wendover, Bucks, as 'beyond despicable' for sending the boy explicit photos and messages while teaching him at Princes Risborough School in Buckinghamshire. In January this year, the Teaching Regulation Agency handed out a lifelong ban as they ruled her preying on a young boy had demonstrated a 'callous and selfish disregard for her pupil's well-being' and 'the public would rightly be appalled by her behaviour'.

Alice McBrearty

Alice McBrearty
Lydia Beattie-Milligan

Alice McBrearty was jailed after she had sex with a 15-year-old schoolboy in a hotel and at her parents' home after befriending him on social media. The then 23-year-old also kissed the pupil in a classroom and performed sex acts on him in an empty garage and in her car, a court heard.

Judge Sheelagh Canavan told her she accepted that the victim was consenting to the 'full-blown sexual relationship'. Sentencing McBrearty to 16 months behind bars, she said: "I accept he was consenting - what 15-year-old schoolboy would turn down such an attractive offer?"

The judge added that the defendant was a 'bright, intelligent and gifted young woman, who knew right from wrong', but she said she had committed the 'grossest breach of trust'. In 2017 McBrearty, who taught at a school in London, pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust.

Hannah Harris

Hannah Harris
Kandice Barber -Credit:Thames Valley Police

Teaching assistant Hannah Harris was jailed for six years after posing as the mum of her victim's fictional girlfriend to hide their relationship as she had sex with the boy in a Wilko's car park. Claiming to be a woman named Olivia, the 23-year-old contacted the pupil's parents and told them she lived with her fictional daughter Kayla, whom she claimed was their son's girlfriend.

In one text to the boy's parents, Harris wrote: "Seems Kayla and (the boy) are getting on well, so I am happy to ferry them around." Harris was caught out in January 2020 when the boy's older brother found out, before he admitted to his sibling that neither 'Olivia' nor 'Kayla' were real.

Harris, of Henlow, Bedfordshire, was convicted of a single count of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Erin Hebblewhite

Erin Hebblewhite, 32, was jailed for two years after she admitted to seven criminal charges involving abusing her position to groom and sexually abuse a teenager while she was a teacher at Connaught School for Girls in Leyton, East London.

The victim, who was under 18, said that her first kiss had been with Hebblewhite, of Brighton, and she also lost her virginity to the teacher in a restaurant bathroom, The Mirror reported. The charges of sexual activity with the child, including kissing on school premises, all happened in the same year that Hebblewhite was nominated for a teacher of the year award, Essex Live reports.

Four charges related to sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 to 17 and abusing her position of trust, with the fifth charge being sexual activity in the presence of a teenager. The other two charges were for the taking and possession of indecent photographs of a girl under the age of 17.

Fatinah Hossain

Fatinah Hossain had sex with a 14-year-old pupil then claimed she was pregnant after he tried to end their relationship. The 25-year-old teacher was jailed for five years and four months after she groomed a young boy into a sexual relationship that lasted several months.

Hossain became infatuated with the child while working as a study supervisor and cover teacher at a West Sussex school, MyLondon reported. In October 2021 she was jailed for five years and four months after pleading guilty to one count of perverting the course of justice and one count of sexual activity with the boy while in a position of trust.

Vanessa George

Vanessa George
Alice McBrearty -Credit:PA

Twisted nursery worker Vanessa George was recruited by Rochdale paedophile Colin Blanchard to take and send sickening images of her abusing children, including babies, in her care. George, who worked at Little Ted's nursery in Plymouth, was handed an indefinite sentence and locked up for a minimum of seven years in 2009 after pleading guilty to seven sexual assaults on children and making 124 indecent images of children.

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