Leeds & West Yorkshire

Halifax teaching assistant Rachel Regan given community order

Deborah McDonald and Rachael Regan
Image caption Teacher Deborah McDonald, left, was cleared of bullying while Rachael Regan, right, was found guilty

A teaching assistant who taped a seven-year-old girl to a chair at a West Yorkshire school has been given a 12-month community service order.

Rachael Regan, 43, of Cousin Lane, Illingworth, had denied a charge of cruelty but was convicted at Bradford Crown Court last month.

Her colleague, teacher Deborah McDonald, 41, of Birks Hall Terrace, Halifax, was found not guilty.

The judge said Regan humiliated the girl, "now you have been humiliated".

'Figure of fun'

Regan "singled out and bullied" the girl at the school in the Calderdale area of West Yorkshire in a five-month campaign of abuse, the court heard.

The trial heard about a catalogue of incidents against the pupil, who is now nine.

It included shutting her in a storeroom, sticking post-it notes to her thumbs, tying her shoes on with string, name calling and goading, hiding her doll and tearing up her photograph.

Regan's community order includes a requirement to do 40 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Neil Davey QC criticised the length of time the classroom assistant had been on bail before she was charged, during which time the Crown Prosecution Service decided what to do.

He said the period of uncertainty was a punishment in itself, explaining that this was why he had not considered a custodial sentence.

In sentencing, Judge Davey told Regan: "You have been convicted by a jury of cruelty to a small child, in effect of bullying her to the extent that it would properly be described as cruelty."

He said her conduct had been "shameful" and a breach of trust.

The judge said: "You breached that trust by turning her into a figure of fun."

Laughed at

He said Regan invited others to ridicule the girl when she taped her to a chair.

Judge Davey said the defendant had already lost the job she loved and would be barred from working with children.

He said: "You humiliated [the girl], you've already been professionally humiliated, now you've been publicly humiliated."

Prosecutor Simon Waley told the week-long trial an investigation was launched by the school and the police after the girl told her mother a teacher had tied her to a chair with sticky tape so she could not move.

"She said that the class had been laughing at her and that she was the 'class clown'," he said.

"She said that Mrs Regan put it all around the chair and it was hard breathing. She said that she couldn't get out to reach her things. She said that the whole class were laughing."

The girl's mother described the moment her daughter told her what had occurred as "heartbreaking".

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