A TEACHING assistant who admitted to kissing and flirting with a pupil at a special needs school has been given a 12-week suspended sentence.

Mum-of-two Susan Janet Ayres was also told by Swindon magistrates that she must complete 80 hours of community service and be placed on the sex offenders’ register for seven years.

The court heard that Ayres, 41, of York Road, began a relationship with her 17-year-old pupil after a breakdown in her marriage left her emotionally vulnerable.

Ayres, who has since reunited with her husband, had been working at Crowdys Hill School for special needs children for three years when the relationship began in April.

The boy, who has since turned 18, was taken for drives by Ayres and the pair exchanged text and Facebook messages.

Prosecutor Pauline Lambert said that in texts between the pair, Ayres made “caring comments” and said “I love you”. In another text Ayres wrote “You’re sexy, you taste delicious.”The boy, who has a tremor, told police that he had to pause his Playstation because she would text him a lot.

Ayres began taking the boy for drives after she ferried him and another pupil to gym classes. On one occasion they visited Weston-super-Mare, where they were said to have held hands.

“He said after an incident with his dad, he’d gone for a drive with Ms Ayres. When they went for drives, she said they had to be careful because she didn’t want to get caught.”

The boy said that on one of these drives she leant over to kiss him on the lips. “He says he felt sorry for her so he kissed her hand,” Ms Lambert said. Ayres had touched the boy on the leg, magistrates heard. However, she had not touched him anywhere else and he was clothed at the time. The boy alleged that Ayres had once encouraged the boy to join his friend in taking off his shirt on one gym trip.

Magistrates heard that the boy had been “too scared” to tell teachers at the school. The month-long relationship was discovered by another teacher.

In a witness statement, the boy hinted that the discovery of the relationship had left him feeling suicidal: “I walked into roads about five or six times,” he said. “I had just had enough of it all.”

The boy had been receiving counselling, the court heard.

Defending, Cathy Thornton said that at the time of the relationship Ayres was at a low point personally and professionally. She painted a picture for magistrates of a “lady separated from her husband, struggling to cope emotionally”. She was also stressed after struggling to “essentially write” a school retail course.“I don’t think she was in the right frame of mind to assess things logically,” Ms Thornton said.

She said that the boy had begun leaving notes on Ayres’ class board at the start of the school year and had also given her a Haribo ring in a “mock proposal”.

The actions had made her feel uncomfortable and she had mentioned it to another teacher. However, Ms Thornton said: “She did carry on and, unfortunately, she did let this man into her heart and her head.”

Ayres’ solicitor added: “She hates herself for what she has done to this young man.”

At an earlier hearing, Ayres pleaded guilty to being in a position of trust and intentionally touching a boy under-18 and that touching was sexual.

Sentencing her, chairman of the bench Jonathan Chappell told Ayres: “This is a serious offence and we are of the opinion that the custody threshold has been met.”

Ayres was given a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months. She was told to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and 30 rehabilitation days with the probation service. She must register as a sex offender for seven years. Magistrates also ordered her to pay £85 court costs and a £115 victim surcharge.