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Bullying-case pupil 'a lovely girl'

A teacher accused of bullying a seven-year-old pupil has told a court she was a "lovely little girl" who made her smile.

Deborah McDonald, 41, and teaching assistant Rachael Regan, 43, are charged with child cruelty after a number of incidents involving the girl at a school in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

The trial at Bradford Crown Court has heard that the two women were involved in a campaign of bullying, including taping the girl to a chair, tying her shoes on with string and sticking Post-it notes on her thumbs.

McDonald told the jury she had not deliberately ill-treated or humiliated the girl.

The teacher, from Halifax, said: "(She) is a lovely little girl. We got along very well together, I liked her, she liked me, I was very happy to be her teacher. She made me smile on so many occasions. I have many happy memories of her."

When asked about the incident involving Regan placing the Post-it notes on the girl's thumbs, McDonald said the pupil's thumb-sucking had become a "real issue", which was preventing her from doing her work.

She said Regan, from Illingworth, was trying to address the issue by placing the Post-it notes on to her thumbs.

McDonald said: "She wasn't upset from the scenario I could see."

She denied it was an act of deliberate ill-treatment and said the girl did not suffer distress as a result of the incident.

McDonald told the court the girl was "proud" when Regan tied string around her shoes because they looked like Roman sandals.

She said the pupil's shoes were "dangerous" because they were too big and the string helped to make them safe.

The teacher said: "I don't think I've ever seen (the girl) so proud. The sandals gave her a big boost to her self-esteem. She did enjoy the attention. It's like she was 10 feet tall. The look on her face was pure pride."

McDonald said the incident was not done to humiliate the girl and she did not seem distressed.

Earlier, Regan told the court the incident involving her taping the girl to a chair was "a bit of fun".

She said the girl was not upset and was "giggling".

Regan denied deliberately humiliating the girl and carrying out the incidents for her own amusement.

Both defendants deny the charge.

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