October 2016

Teaching assistant jailed for five years after having sex with schoolgirl


The mother of a teaching assistant’s schoolgirl victim said that the past two years had been “like living a nightmare”.

24-year-old Hamid Bhatti groomed her 15-year-old daughter after meeting her on a placement at her school in the South West.

The mum, 40, said she quickly cottoned on to what was going on but felt powerless to stop them.

Bhatti was jailed for five years for the sexual activity with a student, with the court hearing the 24-year-old had sex with a 15-year-old student at least 14 times, including once on his bedroom floor while another teenage girl slept in his bed.

Bhatti, a teaching assistant from a Yeovil school, was jailed for five years after a jury at Taunton Crown Court found him guilty of child abduction and two allegations of sexual activity with a child

Bhatti, now 24, was acquitted of three further charges of sexual activity with a child.

Speaking after he was jailed for five years on Wednesday, the mother of the girl said she is glad the ordeal is finally over – but that she thinks the sentence is harsh.

She said: “The past two years have been awful – like living a nightmare. It has affected the whole family, it really has. I’m just glad it’s over.

“My daughter went through the phase where she really thought she loved Hamid. Girls at that age have raging hormones and Hamid got a lot of attention.

“I did meet him a couple of times and I warned him off her but unfortunately he didn’t listen.

“He always told me there was nothing going on. It was only when the police got evidence that he told me and he was very apologetic.”

She added: “I’m quite upset at the sentence he has been given. Part of me feels sorry for him as I’m a mum and his life is ruined. But I’m glad he was found guilty. It has affected my daughter so much.

“I don’t think she really understood at first – because he was 22 and she was 15, she thought it was OK. But when he was in a position of trust, it was wrong.”

The mum added that she wasn’t concerned when her daughter first started talking about Bhatti.

But alarm bells rang when she noticed the youngster dressing up for school and fussing more about her appearance.

The mum said: “She started making herself look better and I just thought she had a boyfriend from school.

“I was aware she liked him because she used to point him out on the way home from school, but I didn’t think much of it – I had a crush on a teacher at school.

“He didn’t have the beard at that point and he was quite an attractive man. A lot of the girls fancied him.”

The mum added that it has had a “huge” impact on her little girl and the family as a whole.

She said: “It caused arguments at home all the time and it was just awful. I just hope she can forge a future now. This has affected her greatly.”

Sentencing him to five years in prison for sexual activity with a child and two for child abduction, to run concurrently, Judge David Ticehurst said: “For a period you were undoubtedly in a sexual relationship with a girl you knew to be under the age of consent.

“It’s clear she was a vulnerable girl who had difficulties in her life, and your presence in her life only compounded those difficulties. Your interest in her was for your own sexual gratification and you chose to abuse her.

“It is doubly regrettable that you were a teaching assistant at the time you met the girl. Your duty was to support the staff and the students at the school and instead you abused a young girl and took advantage of her crush.

“You will never be able to work in teaching ever again, and I cannot think of a person less suitable to do so.”

Over the course of the eight day trial Hamid Bhatti, who is now 24, but had been 22 at the time of the alleged offences, the court heard he had been on a teaching placement at the school when he met the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Suspicions about the pair were first raised when a teacher spotted the girl blowing him a kiss from a classroom window, which he “caught” and blew back to her. When the school spoke to him about the incident, he said it had just been a joke.

Bhatti, who had been on a training placement at the school, was let go later that year after being reported for improper conduct by three members of staff at the school, but by then the pair were already in a sexual relationship.

When the girl came to school one day with a black eye and when her mother was called in, the girl admitted she had spent the night at Bhatti’s home instead of with friends.

Following an admission that she had spent Social services, the local authority and the police were all called in. But the girl protected him and denied anything sexual had taken place between them.

Police officers were so concerned about the couple that they served a child abduction notice on Bhatti, explaining he was not to have contact with the girl. The girl was interviewed several times by the police throughout their investigation, but she lied to officers about the extent of their relationship.

Later, she admitted that she and Bhatti had planned exactly what she would say during her interviews.

Despite the police investigation, the couple continued to see each other, with the girl frequently staying at his home, said the prosecution.

On one occasion, she stayed there with another friend, who woke up to find them having sex on the floor next to the bed next to her. Even when the girl’s mother found a note from him to her daughter which said “you were amazing last night, as always. I love you,” the girl denied anything untoward had happened between them.

In early 2015, the girl was reported missing and police visited Bhatti’s home to try and find her.

He claimed that he had not seen her or been in contact with her, but suspicious police returned later that day with more officers. As officers knocked on Bhatti’s door, the girl ran out of his back door – straight into the arms of a waiting policeman.

A search of Bhatti ‘s bedroom found a used condom, with his and the girl’s DNA on it. He was arrested by police and gave a no comment interview.

But even then Bhatti continued to try and contact the girl, even calling her friends and family and pretending to be her father so he could talk to her on the phone.

Months later, the girl opened up to friends and family about the extent of their relationship, eventually admitting he had begun a sexual relationship with her while he was at the school.

But Bhatti told the court the girl and her friends thought he looked like Zayn Malik from One Directon and had been ‘pestering’ him to the extent that he was hiding in classrooms at the school to try and avoid her.

Throughout the trial, he maintained their relationship had not been sexual, until she came to his home and told him she had turned 16.

As well as five years in prison, he will be added to the sex offender’s register indefinitely.