A CARE worker who started a sexual relationship with a teenage boy at a children’s residential home where she once worked has walked free from court.

Alysha Friel, of Grangemoor in Runcorn, began a relationship with the boy and pursued it over a period of four months.

The two had become friendly over shared interests and things intensified, with 26-year-old Friel kissing the boy.

The pair exchanged ‘flirty’ messages via social media of a sexual nature and they eventually engaged in sexual activity.

The boy asked for the activity to stop and wanted Friel to leave the home, and he told another member of staff what had been happening.

Friel was suspended and the police launched an investigation into the allegations. She was arrested and questioned by officers.

The defendant, who is a mother, said that she knew it was wrong and that things had gone too far, but she had convinced herself that the two had become friends and she had romantic feelings for him.

She was charged with and pleading guilty to six counts of being an adult abusing a position of trust by engaging in sexual activity with a boy aged between 13 and 17, and four counts of being an adult abusing a position of trust causing or inciting sexual activity with a boy aged between 13 and 17.

Appearing at Liverpool Crown Court last week, Friel was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months.

Judge Robert Trevor-Jones also ordered that she complete 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 100 hours of unpaid work, in and for the benefit of the community.

She must pay £300 costs and has been placed on the Sexual Offenders Register for 10 years.

Following the sentencing, Sarah Egan, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Friel has abused her position of trust, and has engaged in a completely inappropriate relationship with the victim.

“Irrespective of the victim being at the age of consent, and the consensual nature of the sexual activity, she still pursued a relationship with the victim for her own gain, disregarding his welfare.

“She had undertaken training around safeguarding and was fully aware of what was expected of her in terms of her behaviour, and compliance with the rules and code of conduct of the home. She chose to disregard all of that.

“Her early guilty pleas however have avoided a trial, which is a positive outcome for the victim, and Friel has demonstrated remorse and accountability for her actions.

“We would like to thank the victim, the witnesses and the prosecution team for their assistance in this case, and we hope the victim is able to put this behind him and look to the future.

“We would like to remind the public that offences of this nature are taken extremely seriously and will be prosecuted within the full extent of the law.

“We would like to encourage anyone who has been a victim of crime to come forward.”