Teenager abused young children at nursery where he worked, court told

Jayden McCarthy is accused of abusing nine children when he was aged 16

The case is taking place at Exeter Crown Court (Shutterstock)

A teenager has gone on trial accused of sexually abusing nine children at the nursery where he worked as an apprentice.

Jayden McCarthy is alleged to have assaulted the children over the course of several weeks in 2019, when he was aged 16 and they were between two and three years old.

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Exeter Crown Court heard McCarthy, now 18, was employed as an apprentice assistant at the nursery in the Torbay area of Devon.

He denies 14 charges relating to the nursery, which cannot be named for legal reasons, and two unrelated charges of raping a child.

Jason Beal, prosecuting, told jurors: “This is a case about a series of sexual assaults that were carried out by a member of staff on young children who attended the nursery.

“Over the course of several weeks in 2019, Jayden McCarthy sexually assaulted nine children.

“These assaults were of varying degrees of seriousness, ranging from him touching children over or under their clothing on their private areas to an incident of rape.”

Mr Beal said McCarthy had successfully applied for a job at the nursery as an apprentice assistant, providing references and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

During the course of his employment, he underwent further training, including on safeguarding children, the court heard.

There were no official concerns about his work at the nursery, though staff noticed he could be “immature” around the children but this was thought to be as he was only aged 16, Mr Beal said.

However, an investigation into the teenager was launched after a child disclosed to her parents that he had raped her. McCarthy was immediately suspended by the nursery.

There was no CCTV footage of the incident, alleged to have taken place in the toilet area of the nursery, but police officers looked at 250 hours of recordings from the site.

Mr Beal said: “Thirteen incidents were identified in which the prosecution say that the defendant was caught on CCTV sexually assaulting children.

“The incidents vary in length and in the nature of what the defendant was doing. Some of them happen very quickly and some play out over a longer time.”

On some occasions, McCarthy abused the children under the “pretence of putting sun cream” on them, Mr Beal said.

McCarthy would also assault the children as he sat on the floor and they climbed over him, the prosecutor alleged.

“The defendant denies that any of these incidents are sexual assaults,” Mr Beal told the jury.

He alleged that the CCTV footage captured “repeated behaviour” rather than “isolated incidents”.

The court heard that after allegations relating to the nursery came to light, a child reported that they had been raped by McCarthy years earlier.

McCarthy denies the 16 offences against him, comprising of three counts of rape and 13 counts of sexual assault.

The trial, in front of Judge David Evans, continues.