A 36-YEAR-OLD single mother has been jailed for nine years for having sex with a 12-year-old boy nearly 200 times.

Sentencing unemployed Angela Sullivan, Judge John Walford branded her “shameful”

and “cynical” .

He said: “There clearly has to be a substantial custodial sentence to reflect the public horror at this sort of offending.”

Last night, children’s charities revealed startling statistics about child abuse carried out by women.

The NSPCC said that more than one-in-six cases dealt with by counsellors in the region involved a female alleged abuser.

Sullivan was trapped by a diary she kept of her liaisons with the schoolboy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and marked each of their sex sessions with a star.

The secret meetings became public knowledge when rumours began circulating at his school that she was pregnant.

Sullivan had also been indiscreet about the affair, telling close friends about the youngster, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said Sullivan’s own son was “cut out of her affection”

while she lavished gifts on her victim.

She often sent her son to stay with grandparents at weekends so she could have sex with the boy at her home, said Mr Bennett.

When police arrested her last October as the rumours grew, they found a diary filled with childish entries, and 191 stars.

Mr Bennett said: “It is clear from the entries in her diary that the defendant believed she was in a relationship with the boy.”

In the diary entry for May 17, which recorded the 76th time they had sex, Sullivan wrote “come on”, Mr Bennett told the court.

On August 1 – marking the 174th occasion – she wrote, “got to reach 200”, at which time she planned to buy him a games console.

When they had sex for the 100th time, Sullivan bought the boy a pair of training shoes to “celebrate”, the court was told.

“A pattern developed over the course of the weeks and months which allowed the defendant to sexually abuse (her victim). Like most youngsters of that age, he was interested in clothes and computer games,” said Mr Bennett.

“The defendant groomed him by buying him many gifts to keep him happy.”

Sullivan, of Cavendish Road, Middlesbrough, admitted ten specimen charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Andrew Turton, mitigating, said Sullivan had no previous convictions and nothing in her past to show sexually deviant behaviour.

He asked Judge Walford to treat what she did as an aberration, and said she has shown remorse and guilt.

He said: “She knew what she was doing was wrong, but in a strange way she was feeling she was having an adult relationship. She perceived that he was a willing participant.”

Jailing Sullivan and ordering her to sign on the sex offenders’ register for life, Judge Walford described the case as shocking.

He said the psychological impact on the boy – and on her own son, who once saw them having sex – would be incalculable.

The court heard that the abuse started after the boy drank ten bottles of an alcopop and began feeling unwell.

He was taken to bed by Sullivan.

He could not remember what had happened, but the next day a tearful Sullivan told him the truth.

She said: “I had sex with you, and if anyone finds out it will be classed as rape.”

Last night, the NSPCC said: “People still struggle to believe that a woman could sexually abuse a child.”

Between April 2008 and March last year, Childline staff in the North counselled 594 children, who identified sexual abuse as their main concern. Of those, 105 said they had been sexually abused by a female.

A spokesman for child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation said: “Society’s reluctance to accept that women can engage in abuse of children makes it very difficult for victims to come forward, as they often fear they will not be believed or that the abuse will be minimised and viewed as less harmful than abuse committed by a man – this is especially problematic for adolescent male victims of female abuse.”

■ Childline can be contacted on 0800-1111 or at childline.

org.uk Adults concerned about their own behaviour or that of others are asked to call the NSPCC on 0808-800-5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk