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Teaching assistant jailed for sex acts on teen boy during flight

Jill Meldrum-Jones
Jill Meldrum-Jones

A married teaching assistant who performed a string of sex acts on a 15-year-old boy during an international flight has been jailed for 32 months.

Jill Meldrum-Jones, 37, also committed further offences against the boy while on a school trip after becoming "consumed with lust" and losing her grip on reality, Coventry Crown Court was told.

Meldrum-Jones, from Kineton in Warwickshire, sobbed in the dock as prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski told how the mother-of-two performed oral sex on the boy three times while on board a jet returning to the UK.

The disgraced teaching assistant, who performed three other sex acts on the victim during the flight, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to a total of seven charges of sexual activity with a child and inciting sexual activity.

Opening the facts of the case, Mr Kolodynski said the offences came to light after rumours circulated relating to Meldrum-Jones, whose former school cannot be named for legal reasons.

After the offences, Mr Kolodynski said, Meldrum-Jones sent text messages to the boy making clear reference to what had happened and containing "conversation geared towards arranging further sexual congress".

Summarising a victim impact statement submitted to the court by the boy, who cannot be identified, Mr Kolodynski told Judge Philip Gregory: "He says since this was reported he has felt very nervous and embarrassed - 'I just feel horrible about it all and worry about what people may think'."

Jailing Meldrum-Jones, the judge told her: "You at the time were a teaching assistant charged with responsibility for teenage children.

"You and you alone are responsible for what happened.

"It almost beggars belief that somebody from your background - happily married with two children and intelligent - should so lose control of your senses and judgment that you would permit yourself to behave in this way."

The judge said he accepted that the offending was "grotesquely out of character" for Meldrum-Jones, and that her absence from her family during her jail term would be a "hell" for her husband and children.

Judge Gregory, who also imposed a sexual harm prevention order, told the school worker: "This court is now confronted with the appalling task of having to sentence you.

"You and your family need to understand that judges have to follow the law and have to implement it - and if we don't we are not worthy of the name.

"32 months is the least sentence I can pass in these circumstances."

Defence barrister Simon Hunka had urged the judge to suspend the teaching assistant's jail term, suggesting her behaviour on the aircraft was "unbelievable in its riskiness" and may have been linked to depression or her mental state.

"She's not a fool," Mr Hunka told the court. "She's an educated woman from a very sensible family.

"People that have not taken leave of their senses would trigger parts of their mind that put barriers down. She was unable to put those barriers down."