A TEACHING assistant accused of sexually touching schoolgirls appeared calm when he was told he would be suspended from work pending an investigation, a court heard.

David Billington, 46, denies nine counts of sexually touching girls under 13 at Preston Crown Court.

Headteacher Heather McGowan told the court concerns were raised by a parent, who described the teaching assistant as ‘odd’, when she was discussing a separate matter concerning her child.

Mrs McGowan said: “I think she said something about her daughter not feeling comfortable around him.”

She told the court she took advice from the local authority designated officer for safeguarding, who then contacted police.

On February 4 2016, she told Billington, of Shadsworth Road, Blackburn, he was suspended pending an investigation, the jury heard.

She said: “I went to speak to him. He had been photocopying and he had a maths book in his hand. He asked if it concerned a parent or a pupil but I said I could not give him that information.”

The matter then became a police inquiry.

Six girls came forward to complain the teaching assistant, who they knew as Mr B, had behaved inappropriately towards them.

One said Billington, who was the sports coach at St Anthony’s Primary School in Blackburn, had sat her on his knee and kissed her in the PE cupboard before telling her she must not tell anyone or he would lose his job.

Others said he touched their legs, backs and bottoms and flicked their skirts up as they walked past, the court heard.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said as a teaching assistant Billington was made aware of safeguarding issues as necessary with his role.

He said: “The acts were not the most serious level of touching but they remain serious because of the frequency of the touching and the number of complaints when he was in a position of trust.”