Magistrate rejects Jackie Hays' bid to have grooming case dismissed

GUILTY: Jackie Hays described the messages she sent to the boy as 'filth'. She will be sentenced next week.
GUILTY: Jackie Hays described the messages she sent to the boy as 'filth'. She will be sentenced next week.

A magistrate has rejected a last-minute bid by a mother of two who groomed a 15-year-old student for sex to have her case dismissed on the basis she was suffering a borderline personality disorder.

Newcastle Local Court magistrate Robert Stone on Thursday said he accepted Jackie Mary Hays, 51, suffered from mental health issues but the case against her was too serious to dismiss.

Mr Stone said Hays, who was working as a support staff member at a Hunter Valley school, had detailed “lewd, descriptive acts” in a series of explicit text messages to the boy suggesting she wanted to have sex.

The magistrate said she'd either be jailed or receive a suspended jail term when sentenced next Wednesday.

“In general terms, the community expects better from people who work at schools with children,” Mr Stone said. “She knew it was inappropriate. She knew it was illegal to have sex with the boy.”

The magistrate said sentencing Hays, who pleaded guilty to grooming the boy for sexual activity between April 2015 and June 2016, would be a difficult exercise because the actual text messages were unavailable as the boy's phone had been lost.

Hays admitted she was infatuated with the teenager but blamed a weight loss drug for her predatory behaviour, claiming it dramatically increased her sex drive and impaired her judgment. 

She began taking the drug Duromine four months before she started sending the explicit text messages to the student.

Legal Aid lawyer Gillian Jewison argued one of the side effects was to increase Hays' sex drive because the drug was only supposed to be taken short-term. Ms Jewison acknowledged there was no medical evidence linking the drug to Hays' actions but anecdotal evidence indicated her behaviour had changed.

Prosecutor Stuart Ogilvy said there was nothing to suggest the drug had affected Hays' mood, caused her anxiety or changed her sex drive.

Mr Ogilvy said when Hays was interviewed by detectives she described the text messages as “filth”.

Hays admitted she was willing to have sex with the boy but claimed she wanted to wait until he turned 16.

Mr Ogilvy said Hays came to know the boy and his family through the school and she had abused their trust when trying to arrange to have sex with him.

Hays was initially charged in mid-2017 with five offences alleging she had been sending explicit text messages and phoning two students but four of the charges were dropped after she agreed to plead guilty to the one count of grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity. Police set up Strikeforce Minnamorra before Hays' arrest after being alerted by the school.