A teacher’s aid who repeatedly raped a young boy in a ‘sex pod’ at the rear of his class claims she had a ‘brain snap’.
Nicole Evelyn Woods, 55, had been abusing alcohol and methylamphetamine – the deadly drug ice – when she sexually abused her 15-year old student at a suburban Melbourne high school and sent him nude images.
Woods – a mother herself – denied her vile offending all the way up to the day her young victim – now aged 19 – was due to give evidence against her.
Nicole Evelyn Woods, 55, abused her young victim repeatedly from a sex pod at the back of his class room
The boy, now 19, says he’s been left ‘broken and I don’t know how to fix me’ due to the abuse
The teacher’s aid had been employed by her victim’s school in 2016 to help visually impaired students.
But from her ‘pod’ at the rear of the classroom, the drug addled predator began to drum up a personal relationship with the troubled teen.
Working at time at the school canteen, she would buy the boy food and paid for repairs to his mobile phone.
Eventually she sent him a message through Facebook asking the boy to ‘come play with her’ in her room at the back of the class.
It was the first in a series of sexual assaults she committed against the vulnerable student.
The abuse continued during ‘Homework Club’ after school throughout the year within her grubby classroom sex pod.
When the boy later told his mates that Woods had been paying him for sex, word quickly spread throughout the playground.
But it would be almost a year later before police finally caught up with her.
By then, she had already resigned and moved onto another school within the same suburb.
When police questioned her, Woods denied the accusations and claimed the boy had made it all up.
She would carry out the cruel facade through a contested preliminary court hearing.
But detectives had a strong case against her, with nude images found on the boy’s Facebook account linked directly back to her.
When police turned-up the heat, Woods made a run for it, sparking a nationwide hunt for the fugitive.
She has been behind bars at Victoria’s notorious Dame Phyliss Frost Centre since December 13.
When she finally confessed, Woods continued to blame her young victim and told a psychiatrist that he had wanted it.
She told the doctor that she believed it was okay because the teen had consented.
‘I didn’t ask him, he asked me,’ she claimed.
Police put out a warrant on Nicole Evelyn Woods, 55, after she did a runner upon being charged over the child sex offences
Woods also sent the boy, aged between 15 and 16 at the time, images of her breasts and at one point gave him $80 to repair his mobile phone
In a contradictory psychiatric assessment, Woods goes from saying she believed she was allowed to have sex with students to declaring she knew it was wrong all along.
‘It was a snap of the brain,’ she said. ‘It was just so wrong. I knew it was wrong … I always wanted someone to love me.’
Woods has pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual penetration of a child aged under 16.
At a previous appearance, Woods lashed out at waiting media, swiping at a reporter’s microphone.
On Monday, she appeared in the County Court of Victoria vie WebEx due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Woods, dressed in a blue prison-issued tracksuit, stroked rosary beads throughout her pre-sentence hearing.
The court had previously heard that her victim now sleeps with a knife because he’s so traumatised by what she did to him when no one was watching.
In a powerful victim impact statement, the teen said he had been left ‘broken’ by the abuse at the hands of his teacher.
‘Dark days, anger pain, can’t sleep properly, sleep with a knife, cutting myself,’ he said.
‘(I’m) not innocent anymore.’
Woods had abused him up to 25 times over about five months in 2016.
Her victim dropped out of school. He used to love cricket and football but doesn’t play anymore, cannot work and receives a disability payment.
The boy’s mother faced Woods in court, saying there was ‘no joy, no laughter’ in the family’s life anymore.
‘I’ve locked things in a section of my head because if I think about them I fear it will tip me over the edge,’ the mother said.
Woods’ lawyer Jonathan Barrera said the teacher’s aide was abusing ice and Panadeine Forte at the time and her house had been repossessed.
‘It was quite a dark time for her,’ Mr Barrera said, adding the woman believed she had a special bond with her victim.
County Court Judge George Georgiou suggested Woods had shown little remorse for her actions and had continued to blame the victim.
‘Did she not receive training at all about inappropriate relationships with students? About what the age of consent it?,’ he asked.
‘It seems to me she hasn’t accepted responsibility for her offending.’
The court heard Woods had previously worked with even younger children at kindergartens and child care centres.
She will be sentenced at a date to be fixed.
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