London - A married teaching assistant carried out six sex acts on a 15-year-old pupil during a night flight home from a school trip.
Jill Meldrum-Jones, 37, took advantage of the youngster under cover of darkness during the flight as fellow pupils slept metres away.
On Monday the mother of two was jailed for 32 months after a judge said her conduct almost beggared belief.
Prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski said Meldrum-Jones also kissed the boy and repeatedly involved him in sexual activity as they walked alone to a secluded spot a day earlier. She also carried out a sex act on him in a darkened minibus during a ride home from an outing with the school party on the trip.
Meldrum-Jones sobbed in the dock as Judge Philip Gregory said she must have ‘lost her senses and become consumed by lust for this boy’. The judge told her: ‘You were charged with responsibility for teenage children on what should have been a wonderful learning experience for the children.
‘But for one boy it was an incident which has plagued him ever since because of the severe misconduct in which you involved him. You and you alone are responsible for what has happened. It would have been bad enough if it had happened only once - it happened repeatedly.
‘But it didn’t end there, on the holiday. Under the cover of darkness on the flight home - and this almost beggars belief - you engaged in similar conduct with him.’
The judge added: ‘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 court heard that after landing back in the UK, Meldrum-Jones added her number to the boy’s mobile phone contact list.
Kolodynski said she sent ‘highly sexualised’ text messages to the boy, ‘making clear references to what happened on the trip and the flight home’. The pair were sitting side-by-side during the sexual activity in the cabin with one of them in an aisle seat.
The prosecutor said the boy described Meldrum-Jones as being ‘over-familiar’ with pupils, but initially thought nothing of it.Kolodynski told Coventry Crown Court the first incident took place during a night time minibus trip home from an expedition with other pupils.
He said the defendant sat next to the boy and began to touch him inside his trousers for five minutes. The boy asked her to stop, which the barrister said caused her some ‘annoyance’.
The next day they went for a walk - the first time they had been together alone - where further, repeated sexual activity and kissing took place.
The court heard Meldrum-Jones was arrested in March this year after rumours began circulating around her secondary school over her conduct on the school trip. The previous month she had tried to add the boy as a friend on Snapchat and another social media platform, but he declined.
The boy was initially reluctant to co-operate with the police inquiry, telling officers he ‘didn’t want to wreck her life’, but spoke to police after talking about what had happened with his mother.
In a victim impact statement summarised by the prosecutor the boy said he now avoided going out, fearing that people in his community were ‘talking and gossiping’ about him.
Simon Hunka, defending, said Meldrum-Jones had been diagnosed with depression a few months after the trip, and her mental health issues - for which she has been undergoing counselling - helped to explain behaviour which he described as ‘so out of character and unbelievable in its riskiness’.
Meldrum-Jones pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual activity with a child, and two counts of causing or inciting sexual activity. A charge of sexual assault relating to a second teenage boy - which Meldrum-Jones from Kineton, Warwickshire, denied - was ordered to lie on the file.
Judge Gregory imposed a sexual harm prevention order banning her from contact with children under the age of 16 or deleting her internet browsing history.
Social workers had ruled that Meldrum-Jones posed no threat to her own young children.
She was suspended from her job when the allegations came to light. Warwickshire County Council said her employment will now be terminated.’