Mum tells teaching assistant sex abuse trial how son ‘sobbed on her shoulder’

A mother said that her son sobbed on her shoulder as he told her he had been sexually abused by a teaching assistant at his old school, a court heard.

The woman told a jury that he was “deeply upset” as he told her of events five years before.

Ming Lockhart-Stephens, now aged 56, is on trial accused of indecently touching the underage boy over three years while working at a secondary school in Devon.

She also allegedly encouraged him to perform sex acts upon her at his home and on one occasion in a car park.

Lockhart-Stephens is 36 years older than the former student, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

The complainant, now an adult, has already told the jury he was groomed by the teaching assistant while a teenager at the school in the South Hams.

He said that he was “completely dependant” on the defendant after his relationship with his own mother broke down.

You can stay up-to-date on the top news near you with DevonLive’s FREE newsletters – find out more about our range of daily and weekly bulletins and sign up here or enter your email address at the top of the page.

Ming Lockhart Stephens accused of sex abuse, coming out of Plymouth Crown Court
Ming Lockhart-Stephens leaves Plymouth Crown Court, where she denies sexual activity with a teenage boy
(Image: Devon Live)

The witness said that they had performed sex acts, sometimes several times a week, short of full intercourse.

Mother-of-two Lockhart-Stephens, from Avonwick, has denied four counts of sexual activity with a child between February 2010 and February 2013.

She has also pleaded not guilty to two charges of inciting a child into sexual activity over the same period.

Lockhart-Stephens, who denies anything sexual took place, was initially suspended and no longer works at the school.

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told his father he had been abused during an argument at the end of 2017.

The dad, separated from mother, told his ex-partner and the son visited her.

She told the court: “He was deeply upset. He sobbed on my shoulder for some long period of time. He did not go into details and I did not press him.”

The jury heard that the police were called in April 2018.

Get help if you have been affected by crime

For free practical help and advice contact Victim Support 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 08081689111 or live webchat at victimsupport.org.uk

For bespoke local services call the Devon and Cornwall Victim Care Unit on 01392 475900 or find out more about the unit by visiting victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk

Reporting a crime:

In an emergency call 999. Non emergencies can be reported at dc.police.uk via webchat or online form, alternatively call 101

The mother said that she had reported her concerns about the relationship between her son and Lockhart-Stephens in 2012.

The court has heard that a police officer and social worker spoke to the boy, but he said that she had done nothing wrong.

The teaching assistant was told by the school not to be in the same room as the pupil, though they carried on meeting outside class.

The mother said she spotted her son with Lockhart-Stephens at a school event.

She added: “He cuddled up to her. I think he had his arm around her or they were holding hands. They were much closer than you would expect to see her in that role (teaching assistant).”

Earlier, defence barrister Ali Rafati had accused the complainant of making up the allegations to repair his relationship with his mother – who had disapproved of her.

He denied making things up..

Mr Rafati put to the mother: “The relationship between the two of you (mother and son) was particularly poor and both of you played a part in that.”

She replied: “I do not accept it was particularly poor. We were very close. We loved each other, but we argued.”

The trial continues.

Devon Live – Devon News