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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Carlisle carer who fell in love with boy, 16, is struck off

A 35-year-old carer has been struck off after falling in love with a 16-year-old boy she was in charge of.

The woman, from Carlisle, admitted having an affair with the boy but refused to accept she was wrong because she said she was in love with him and they were “making a life together”.

She has now been taken off the Scottish Social Services Council register, meaning she cannot work in social services in Scotland, after a two-day hearing ended yesterday.

Officials struck her off, describing her as a “risk to the public”, after hearing from the care company director that the boy – described as very vulnerable – was not in a position to consent and the relationship constituted abuse.

The woman was a keyworker for the boy when he was placed in her care in a home in Scotland for 17 weeks last year.

The pair got together last June and spent their first weekend together having sex at various locations across Scotland, while she lied to bosses about visiting a friend in Wales.

The teenager, who had history of criminal behaviour, was transferred to the Scottish home of a care company based near Carlisle because officials at his previous placement could not control him.

The hearing, in Dundee, was told how her bosses were bewildered when a relative of the child insisted he was having a relationship with a staff member after leaving the company’s care last June.

They were horrified to discover that the woman had been whisking him off to Glasgow hotels for sex, paying for the rooms on her credit card.

She resigned her job when Strathclyde police questioned her about the trysts, after the pair also spent a night at a campsite near Aberfoyle, Stirlingshire. They got together on June 10 last year, just one week after the boy was removed from her care.

The criminal charges against her were dropped but she refused to attend the inquiry hearing into her behaviour.

Officials struck her off in her absence, describing her as a “risk to the public” after emails about the relationship were read out by SSSC solicitor Erin Wilkie.

In a statement submitted to the inquiry, the carer wrote: “It’s not inappropriate, it’s consensual and we are still together today. It wasn’t deliberate. You can’t help who you fall in love with. We are making a life for ourselves. I admit misconduct but I have no regrets.”

She refused to disclose her current address to the SSSC because she claimed she and her lover wished to be “left alone”. It is not known if they are living together.

The woman, who had an unblemished record with the SSSC until the affair began, was found guilty of seven misconduct charges.

She was caught contacting the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, on several occasions after he left her care, despite being warned not to speak to him.

And when she received a frantic call from his current care provider after he disappeared to meet her for sex, she told them she had no idea where he was.

The director of the private care company said she thought her employee’s conduct was “totally inappropriate”.

Appearing as a witness, she said the woman had previously been a model employee, describing her as “very dedicated and very professional”.

She said: “She was placed in a position of trust. We’re not dealing with a normal young boy here. He is very vulnerable, with a very mixed upbringing.

“He was not in a position to consent – this is an abusive relationship.”

She added that the woman had “blatantly lied” about not knowing the boy’s whereabouts.

She said: “Every time I spoke to her, she looked at me directly and said, no, she didn’t know where he was.”

Urging the panel to strike her off the SSSC register, Mrs Wilkie said: “There have been no genuine or timely expressions of regret, no apologies and no acceptance of the seriousness of this situation.”

Panel chair David Hughes Hallet said: “In light of the circumstances, removal from the register is the only appropriate sanction.”

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