A FORMER Hereford care manager has been jailed for having sex with a vulnerable and suicidal adolescent in her care.

Michelle Baxter, who was married to a soldier at the time of the 'affair', had sex with the "troubled" 19-year-old while working as a care manager in the city.

The 45-year-old of Cambrian View, Clydach Vale, Mid Glamorgan, had already admitted ill-treatment of the young man in her care and misconduct in a public office when she appeared at Worcester Crown Court.

Baxter, who had been the manager in charge of a team of care workers, pleaded guilty on January 10 this year.

The sexual relationship took place between January 2016 and September 2017.

Judge Robert Juckes QC said the "deeply vulnerable adolescent with a long history of causing trouble to those charged with his care" had "suicidal tendencies".

Laying out the background to the case, he said Herefordshire Council children's services had for many years run a team that provides support to people aged 16 and up consisting of people who were not themselves qualified care workers but were supervised and managed by a professional senior practitioner and a qualified social worker.

Towards the end of 2015 Baxter became associated with that team and in January 2016 began managing it at the drop-in centre at Blackfriars in Hereford.

Judge Juckes said: "You said in interview he began very quickly to show a sexual interest in you which you found hard to resist. It seems sexual contact started in January 2016 and escalated into a full sexual affair."

He told the defendant it was "almost impossible to overestimate how profound the mistake you made in allowing that relationship to develop".

The situation that followed the affair was "predictably volatile" and Baxter used her position to allow the affair to continue, appointing an inexperienced member of the team as the young man's personal adviser, a position the defendant was said to have "repeatedly undermined".

"In the course of this relationship you used bribes and threats to control him to your own ends," said the Judge Juckes.

The young man also made threats of his own to expose Baxter. She was also said by the judge in his summary of the evidence to have encouraged and facilitated the young man's use of cannabis.

Baxter made threats to the young man to involve her husband whom the young man "knew to have been a trained soldier and of whom he expressed considerable fear".

Baxter also obtained sponsorship for a youth links placement scheme that involved 24-hour support (£125,000) which he did not need (though the judge accepted he had needed other forms of support).

Aspects of the young man's "delinquent behaviour" were not reported to police and the judge said Baxter had deliberately manipulated her position to facilitate the relationship.

The young man attempted suicide on August 8 and 22, 2017, and said that Baxter had made false promises of commitment and a long term relationship.

When an investigation was launched into a relationship between the young man and a member of the team, Baxter was asked to head the investigation.

Baxter was said by the judge to have led another member of the team to feel that it was her and not Baxter herself who was under suspicion.

In sentencing the judge balanced this against Baxter's previous "exemplary good character" and said she had worked hard and responsibility for her own family.

Judge Juckes said he was "deeply anxious" for the welfare of the defendant's daughter but had already made clear that he had to impose an immediate custodial sentence.

"It's unfortunate that the offence committed by adults falls very heavily on dependents," he said.

He also said Baxter had shown contrition and added: "It does seem you have shown exceptional remorse."

He jailed her for two years and two months.