A married 52-year-old nurse who had a torrid two-year affair with a teenage patient at a secure mental health unit has been jailed for 18 months.
Jeanette McCleod had regular sex with the 17-year-old inmate after seducing him at the NHS-run Ardenleigh hospital in Birmingham where she worked for five years.
When police were alerted by the boy’s family, officers swooped on her home in Erdington, Birmingham, where they discovered sexually explicit pictures of the pair on McCleod’s laptop.
She admitted five counts of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder by a care worker and was jailed for 18 months when she appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Tuesday.
Sentencing her, Judge Michael Challinor said McCleod had committed a “gross breach of trust”.
He told her: “You were a mental health worker charged with the care of a young man with an obviously fragile mental state.
“It is axiomatic within the relationship between a care worker and patient that it is the worker’s responsibility to establish appropriate sexual boundaries.
“You crossed those boundaries in what was a gross breach of trust. The abuse was carried out frequently and over a long period of time.
“It is hard to quantify the harm that you did, firstly to the mental health professions, bringing the reputation of your fellow careers into disrepute with a grossly inappropriate sexual relationship.
“Secondly, and most importantly to the claimant and his family. He was in a secure mental home, he had no choice over whether the relationship should continue or not.
“Although you were misguided in what you did, I do not see you as a sexual predator as you obviously had some feelings for the boy.
“Your father had just died, your daughter was ill and you were suffering from clinical depression.
“The sentence I pass is not one to punish, or to rehabilitate, but a deterrent to those who care for vulnerable people.
“They should know that if they engage in this kind of behaviour they can expect to go to prison.”
McCleod was also slapped with a five year restraining order preventing her from contacting the victim or his fiancee.
The court heard the veteran nurse met the lad at the mental health unit where he was being held which is run by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.
McCleod had been a registered nurse for 22 years and worked at the unit since 2006.
She began the illicit relationship with the patient when he was 17 in 2008 after she had been caring for him for around a year.
Mark Phillips, prosecuting, told the court McCleod had initially started kissing the boy in his room, and this had continued for about a year before they had oral and full sex.
He said: “The complainant was admitted to the hospital in 2006 after he was sectioned under the mental health act following a conviction for assault.
“The defendant was assigned to his care in the hospital and she told the complainant she would like to kiss and cuddle him.
“After this had been happening for some time it seems the defendant started to treat it as if she was in a relationship.
“She sent the defendant what can only be described as love letters and texts, which he would reply to.
“In 2009 the relationship became sexual. She would give the complainant oral sex in his room at the hospital and he would regularly masturbate in front of her, although she sets out in her basis for plea she never masturbated him.
“Later that year she had full penetrative vaginal sex with the complainant in his bathroom at the hospital, it was she who provided him with a condom.
“Later he was moved to another ward and then left the hospital. During this time the defendant continued to send him messages.
“He would be allowed trips out of the hospital, and the defendant would accompany him on these, to the cinema or out for a meal and once she even took him back to her house, although no sexual activity to place there.
“Eventually he met his fiancee, who is now pregnant with his child but the defendant refused to stop contacting him.
“In October 2011 for example she sent him 398 text messages. When he tried to get her to leave him alone she said she would show his fiancee the naked pictures.
“When she was arrested by police she made what could be described as a full and frank confession.
“Because of her behaviour we feel a restraining order would also be appropriate as we are concerned she still believes the relationship is going on.”
The unit McCleod worked in was opened in 2003 as one of only a small number of adolescent forensic units in Britain and houses some of the country’s most mentally disturbed teenagers.
McCleod, who wore a green and white dress, black coat, initially grinned as the details of her crimes were read out but broke down in tears when she was jailed.
Marcus Kraehling-Smith, defending, told the court McCleod was suffering from mental health problems herself at the time of the affair.
He said: “Her judgement was cloudy, her father had recently died and her daughter had been diagnosed with diabetes. Also her marriage was failing.
“She now understands that what she did was grossly inappropriate. But she has lost everything, her husband wants divorce, she will never work in the profession again and she is about to lose her liberty.”