A woman worker at a North-East centre for child offenders told a court yesterday she was indecently assaulted by the youngsters as well as a manager.

The assaults - by inmates of the secure unit at the Aycliffe Young People's Centre, County Durham - happened "on a regular basis", Teesside Crown Court heard.

And she claimed one youth at the centre - which houses some of the country's most disturbed young people, including rapists and murderers - became a sinister stalker.

The woman was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of team manager Christopher Winstanley Smith, 41, of Vane Road, Newton Aycliffe, who denies indecently assaulting three women staff.

She told the court: "I was sexually assaulted on more than one occasion by Christopher and then I was indecently assaulted on a regular basis by young people on secure.

"I think that was in March this year. I was indecently assaulted two or three times by one boy.

"And I was stalked and harassed by another one up until January 1999 and I had no protection either from my colleagues or managers."

She said that she did not immediately report Winstanley Smith to the police because she had no faith in them after she reported a previous partner for sexual abuse.

She said that she had drunk ive gin and tonics in the centre's staff bar when Winstanley Smith committed a sex offence against her in a house on the Aycliffe site.

The next day she told a colleague that Winstanley Smith had raped her but she did not mean the legal definition of rape.

She added: "I felt ashamed, dirty and shocked and I was humiliated. I had not done anything to invite it."

Winstanley Smith claimed to police that all three women initiated sex with him and that two had ripped his clothes off.

The trial continues