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Jury sent out in case of teaching assistant accused of sex with pupil

A jury has been sent out to consider its verdicts in the case of a teaching assistant, who is accused of having sex with a teenage pupil.

Helen Turnbull, 35, arriving at Teesside Crown Court. Credit: PA

Helen Turnbull, from Haswell in County Durham, has admitted kissing the 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named. She also admits sending him a photo of herself in her underwear and 'sexting' him.

However, she denies their brief relationship went any further.

Before sending the jury out to start their deliberations, Judge Peter Armstrong told the panel at Teesside Crown Court they must find Helen Turnbull not guilty unless they are sure she had sex with the boy.

During the eight-day trial the court has heard the prosecution allege the married mother-of-two groomed the schoolboy with hugs and sweets, then met him in secret and had sex with him in her Mini convertible parked up in an industrial estate.

She has admitted one count of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust, relating to the kissing, but denies three further counts relating to allegations they had sex.

She has told the jury that the lewd messages were "all talk" and that sex never happened.

Summing up the case, Judge Armstrong said the defence case was that the boy had told a friend he and the literacy assistant had had sex, when they had merely kissed.

The judge told the jury the defence suggested he lied and kept it up to "look cool in front of his mates".

He said it was for the prosecution to prove that the offences happened, not for the defence to prove they did not.

He told the jury: "If you are not sure one way or the other, it means that you must acquit, even if you think it might have happened, or it probably did happen.

"Unless you can be sure, you must acquit."

He then sent the jury out to start deliberating.

  1. Richard Wilson

What science can learn from a 13th century Bishop?

It is an argument that's raged through the centuries: do science and religion mix?

Researchers at Durham University claim that not only do the two work well together, but it was a thirteenth century Bishop who ushered in a new age in scientific reasoning.

Historians and scientists have been studying the 800 year old writings, and say they can shed light on today's big questions in science.

Richard Wilson reports.

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Council in process of 'turning school around'

Prince Bishop School. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Middlesbrough Council say they are in the process of turning Prince Bishop School around and gave this account of events:

A safeguarding review was undertaken by the Middlesbrough Safeguarding Children’s Board and an action plan put in place seeking improvements.

Further concerns were raised earlier this year and investigations are currently being undertaken by Middlesbrough Council.

The head teacher and two other members of staff are currently suspended. An interim senior leadership team was put in place before to the recent Ofsted inspection.

A caretaker head teacher was appointed in April, with Yvonne Locker taking over as interim head teacher on September 8, supported by a temporary leadership team.

Jeff Watson was appointed chair of governors in September following the resignation of the previous chair in August.

Council concern over treatment of pupils at Middlesbrough school

Prince Bishop School. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Ofsted says that a school on Teesside is in such a bad way that the children still don't feel safe, and at one point - less than half of all pupils attended.

The school inspectors put Prince Bishop in Middlesbrough into special measures, but acknowledged the council had made some improvements.

The council had its own concerns about the way pupils were physically restrained by teachers.

It says it has suspended the head teacher, and is now turning the school around.

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University enthuses children in science

Dr Pete Edwards enthusing youngsters in science Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Durham University is holding a science festival this week to get children interested in science and technology over half term.

The university has an active out reach programme which aims to enthuse youngsters and find the next generation of scientists and engineers.

  1. Richard Wilson

University scientists work on new space telescope

Prof Martin Ward looks at a model of the James Webb Space Telescope Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Space technology scientists at Durham University are working on an orbital telescope which will be able to see stars at the very edge of the universe.

The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch in 2018 and will replace the Hubble Telescope.

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