A teaching assistant accused of taping a child to a chair said it was just a bit of “banter” between her and the “cheeky monkey”, a court heard.
Halifax primary school teacher Deborah McDonald, 41, of Birks Hall Terrace, Halifax, and teaching assistant Rachael Regan, 43, are charged with cruelty to a person under 16 with offences including taping a child to a chair; shutting her in a storeroom; and tying her shoes on with string, during an alleged five month bullying campaign.
Both defendants deny the charges.
Teaching assistant Regan, of Cousin Lane, Illingworth, Halifax, told the jury at Bradford Crown Court, today (December 1), that she joked with the “fidgety” child who sat separate from other children in her class because of her lack of concentration and “attention seeking behaviour”.
“I kept asking her to sit down on her bottom; she was getting giddier and giddier and giddier. I jokingly said ‘Miss Regan might have to
start sticking you to the chair if you can’t sit still’.
“She was giggly and said ‘are you really going to Miss?’ I said ‘we might have to because you can’t sit on your bottom. She carried on fidgeting and asking me if I was going to do it.
“I took one piece of tape, popped it round her shoulders and that was it,” Regan told the court in the opening of the defence case.
Asked by defence barrister, Tina Landale, where the tape was placed, Regan replied: “Round her shoulders, across her chest. [The tape] was stuck to the inside of her chair.”
Regan told the court that the “excitable” child was still able to move and continued to do her classwork.
“She started to wriggle her shoulders and said ‘I can still move’; I said ‘I know you can sweetheart’,” Regan told the court.
Regan denied leaving the room to fetch a teaching assistant from an adjoining classroom to whom she allegedly said: ‘Look what we have done’.
“[The tape] was on there minutes, probably less. It was just a bit of banter with [the girl] to try and settle her down before we went out to play in the snow,” Regan told the court.
She denied ‘goading the child with a biscuit’ - one of the alleged offences - and said the child was given a biscuit, bought by Regan, like the rest of her classmates.
The teaching assistant described the child as a “very very excitable cheeky little monkey” and said her concentration was low and acted in a ways as to gain both negative and positive attention. She told the court that her and teacher McDonald tried to ignore a lot of the child’s behaviour for this reason.
Asked whether she had stuck Post-it notes to the youngsters thumbs, she replied: “Yes, to stop her from sucking her thumbs. When she sucked her thumb her concentration would be very poor and she would nearly fall asleep in class.”
She told the court she had no reason to think her actions - in a bid to stop the child from sucking her thumb - would cause the child ill-treatment and the head teacher had praised the method.
The court heard that Blue-tac was used by another teacher in the academic year following the allegations in a measure to stop the youngster from sucking her thumbs.
The defendant told the court that she tied shoes to the child’s leg with string in a ‘gladiator’ style after asking her if she wanted to look like a Roman - a topic the children were studying at the time.
She said she had done this because the child was wearing over-sized shoes which were “dropping off” her feet.
The defendant told the court that she tied the string in a bow and criss-crossed it around her legs and the child then walked up and down the class.
“She loved it, she wanted her friends to see and went skipping off to show another teacher,” Regan told the court.
Asked whether the child was then made to stand on a desk as onlooking children laughed, as alleged by prosecutor Simon Waley; Regan replied that she “could not remember”.
Regan denied shutting the girl in the class storeroom and denied tearing up a photograph of the youngster infront of her.
The case continues.