March 2019

Teaching assistant ‘carefully groomed’ schoolgirls before sexually assaulting them

Three schoolgirls who had been sexually assaulted by a teaching assistant “felt guilty for getting him into trouble because they had been so carefully groomed”, a court heard.

Sick predator Treva McCartney abused the young girls, who were aged between seven and eight, while working at a school in Tynedale.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he preyed upon two of his victims in one-to-one sessions, taking advantage of having them alone to slap and squeeze their bottoms.

Another girl described how he would move her towards the fence at break time to hide his hands as he touched her bottom and slipped his hand between her thighs.

The court heard the 55-year-old’s vile behaviour came to light when one of the girls told her older sister she “liked him but wished he would stop touching her”.

When police searched McCartney’s home and seized his computer they found indecent images of children, including nine of ‘category A’ – the most serious.

Heartbreaking victim personal statements from the families revealed that the girls had been “blamed for getting McCartney into trouble by the other children”, struggled with their own feelings of “fondness” towards him, and one of the mothers had been “devastated by feelings of guilt”.

But Judge Amanda Rippon told McCartney that “no-one should feel guilty but you” as she sentenced him to three years and six months in prison.

“You fooled everyone of course, because everyone trusted you,” said Judge Rippon.

“Those girls should have been completely safe in your care.”

McCartney, formerly of Theresa Street, Blaydon, was found guilty of seven counts of sexual assault after a trial, and admitted two counts of possessing indecent images of children at an earlier hearing.

Judge Rippon said the seven counts of sexual assault “represented many occasions of sexual touching of the children [McCartney] abused over a period of time”.

The court heard he would flatter the girls, telling them they were beautiful and saying to one that he “adored her”.

His offending was uncovered when one girl told her sister she “liked [McCartney] but wished he would stop touching her”.

When interviewed by the police the girl said when she was alone with McCartney he would slap her bottom.

Sometimes he would start to breathe heavily “as if in a state of excitement”, it was said.

The court heard that another of the girls had tried to tell her mother about what had happened but “couldn’t find the words to communicate”.

At the time her mother thought McCartney “was just being kind to her daughter”, but realised the importance of the conversation months earlier when she learned of another girl’s complaint against him.

The hearing was told that the third victim told her mother she had something to tell her one day after school, and went on to say McCartney had “done things she didn’t like”.