A mother-of-two had sex with a 15-year-old schoolboy dozens of times after his parents helped her during lockdown, then got hold of a mobile phone in jail and bombarded him with texts begging him to ‘stick by her’.
Former care worker Laura Bardsley, 26, slept with the teen on several occasions after getting close to his family when her relationship with her long term partner began to crumble.
During the romance Bardsley swapped ‘sexually-charged’ texts with the boy saying how much she loved him, had a rendezvous at a pub with him – and when he was on his summer holiday, she wrote him a string of love letters.
She also Googled the search terms ‘unprotected sex’ and ‘morning after pill’ in the run up to an encounter at a hotel, and in one instance a neighbour spotted the pair kissing passionately through a kitchen window.
The four-month affair was discovered when the boy’s mother found the love letters whilst cleaning his bedroom.
The boy initially declined to talk about the romance but later confessed when he started dating a 17-year-old girl and she became jealous.
Despite being repeatedly arrested, Bardsley kept hounding the boy and even acquired a mobile phone in jail so she could continued messaging him begging him to ‘stick by her.’
Laura Bardsley, 26 (left and right), had sex with the teen on at least 15 occasions after getting close to his family
In a statement to police his mother told how had seen a ‘change’ in her son’s behaviour towards her since he started seeing Bardsley and said the consequences of her discovering the lovers had been ‘devastating.’
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Bardsley, of Reddish, near Stockport was jailed for six years after she admitted four charges of sexual activity with a child, harassment and possessing a prohibited item in prison.
The affair began in June last year after the boy’s family offered ‘support’ to Bardsley and her children due to the Covid crisis.
Daniel Calder prosecuting said: ‘When the defendant’s cat had kittens, the boy took an interest, and would frequently visit by himself and would also take toys to play with her children.
‘His mother began to notice he was spending all of his free time at the defendant’s address, and appeared to lose interest in his hobbies. He would often dress smartly or in uniform to visit the defendant, and would stay late into the evening.
‘They regularly exchanged sexually-charged text messages in which she said she loved him, and when he went on his summer holiday, she wrote love letters at his request.
‘His parents were becoming increasingly concerned at the amount of time he was spending at her address, so much so he started lying to them about his whereabouts, inventing cover stories for time he was spending with her.’
The court heard the boy’s mother discovered the love letters on September 3, made photocopies and alerted her husband. She went round to confront Bardsley only to spot the boy’s coat hung up in the hallway and she searched the pockets and found condoms.
She warned Bardsley stay away from her son but later that evening, following an argument, the teenager fled his family home and checked into a hotel room with his older lover.
As police began investigating, Bardsley texted the boy telling him to ‘stick by the story’ and ‘get rid of the letters’ and ‘delete all of our texts.’
Bardsley, of Reddish, near Stockport was jailed for six years after she admitted four charges of of sexual activity with a child, harassment and possessing a prohibited item in prison
She also encouraged him to change his social media name and profile photograph so that it would appear that her contact with him was with somebody else. The two even continued to meet in secret over the following days.
On September 11, Bardsley was arrested but denied having sex with the boy, who also initially refused to give a statement.
His school attendance dropped markedly, his behaviour rapidly deteriorated and he became angry and abusive towards his mother. In one instance he was found in a ‘distressed state’ by a reservoir.
The court heard she was bailed on condition she not contact him, but she sent him messages over social media saying she ‘loved him’ and expressed jealousy he was communicating with girls on Instagram.
She was arrested again after the boy was reported absent from school and a police officer saw the pair together.
The prosecutor said: ‘She was again bailed with conditions not to contact him or to go to his address but she encouraged him to set up a social media account in a woman’s name so that they could communicate incognito.’
The court heard Bardsley was eventually locked up on February 15 and a phone was found in her cell the following day. She made no comment in police interview.
In mitigation defence counsel John Richards said: ‘This was a lady who had some form of breakdown in her relationship of some nine years and she sought the advances of a young man.
‘This wasn’t some form of sexual conquest – she saw this as a genuine relationship but she understands she took advantage. She is entirely embarrassed and ashamed of her actions and recognises that nothing I can say to the court can take away the harm and hurt to the family. She understands entirely that it’s completely and utterly her fault and that he was a child.’
In a statement to the court Bardsley herself said: ‘I am disgusted and hate myself. It shouldn’t have happened. I destroyed their lives.’
Bardsley (left and right) was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will have to sign the Sex Offender Register for life
Sentencing Bardsley, Judge Bernadette Baxter told her: ‘During the lockdown, the boy’s mother offered help and support towards you as you were at a low ebb, and your relationship was in difficult place.
‘But you yourself are the mother to children, and you should know how fragile they are.
‘This boy was 15 and extremely vulnerable and was someone who you knew was easy to exploit and for your own selfish and manipulative ends, you decided to exploit this boy to provide yourself with some sexual satisfaction and emotional comfort.’
‘Even when the police became involved, on at least three occasions, you persisted in manipulating this boy and you made efforts to stop him from cooperating with the police.
‘It was only when the scales fell from his eyes and he began to conduct an age-appropriate relationship that he saw exactly what had happened between him and you.
‘This wasn’t a loving relationship, but it was sexual offending by a sexual offender, which is what you are.’
Bardsley was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will have to sign the Sex Offender Register for life.