A TEACHING assistant has appeared in court charged with sex offences against a child.

Helen Louise Turnbull, who worked at a school in County Durham, is accused of abusing a boy aged 13-17 last year.

The 34-year-old, of Church View, Haswell, near Peterlee, faces four charges of sexual activity with a child in her care.

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The allegations are said to involve sexual touching of the boy and are said to have taken place from June 12 to July 11 last year.

Solicitor Kate Duncan, who represented Miss Turnbull at Peterlee Magistrates' Court said there would be no indication of plea at this stage.

District Judge Christine Harrison declined jurisdiction for the case and adjourned the proceedings.

Miss Turnbull will next appear at Durham Crown Court on 15 and has been granted conditional bail.

She must not contact prosecution witnesses or have contact with children under 18 without the supervision of social services.

While leaving the court Miss Turnbull hid her face and head using a purple shawl and rushed to waiting car to avoid being photographed.

The Northern Echo understands Miss Turnbull no longer works as a learning support assistant at the school and has not done so since September.

A spokesman for Durham County Council, the local education authority, said: "It is not appropriate to comment on this matter as it is an ongoing court case."

The alleged victim in the case cannot be identified for legal reasons.