A CARE worker who received a string of sexually explicit text messages from her boss has won her case for sexual harassment and discrimination.

Helen Leonard was awarded £8,000 by an employment tribunal after being subjected to the sexist comments by Colin Dunn, the partner of a woman for whom she was privately caring.

Mr Dunn regularly paid Ms Leonard compliments about her appearance, as well as making lewd jokes - including some about her performing sex acts.

Mr Dunn, whose late partner Lynn Preston was being cared for by Ms Leonard at their home, claimed the messages were "banter" which was encouraged by the carer.

However, employment judge Lucy Wiseman ruled in Ms Leonard's favour, saying the tribunal was "entirely satisfied" that Mr Dunn's conduct was unwanted and amounted to sexual harassment. The judge also upheld her claim of sexual discrimination.

Ms Leonard, of Greenock, said: "For me, this case was never about the money - it was a point of principle. I wanted to make sure that no other female has to go through what I did.

"I thought 'what if a young girl starting out ended up in there' and I wanted to make sure people knew what he was like. I just wanted him named and shamed.

"I also want other people to know that they don't have to put up with this if they're going through it."

The tribunal heard that soon after Ms Leonard started working for Ms Preston in June 2012, Mr Dunn began paying her compliments on her appearance and sent her a text message praising her "wit, humour, intelligence and beauty".

When the carer agreed to accompany Ms Preston to a physiotherapy appointment at a swimming pool, he also asked her why she did not wear a bikini.

A written judgment on the case also stated that Ms Preston asked Ms Leonard to write a card for Mr Dunn on Valentine's Day and leave it out for him. However, he later told Ms Leonard that he "would pretend it was from her".

Ms Leonard told how she tried to ignore his comments at first but began to feel increasingly uncomfortable in his presence.

She said: "I had to think about what I was wearing every day going into work because I didn't want him to comment on it.

"It grew more and more uncomfortable, but at the same time I was trying to keep it friendly because I had a job to do and bills to pay, I couldn't just walk away."

The mother-of-one eventually claimed she was seeing someone in a bid to get Mr Dunn to back off.

At the same time, Mr Dunn said he was concerned that Ms Leonard was "moody" and "difficult to manage" and had made enquiries about how to deal with it.

Things came to a head in April 2013 when a row erupted and Mr Dunn asked the carer to leave and told her to hand over her keys.

Ms Leonard tried to claim she had been dismissed because she rejected Mr Dunn's advances, but the tribunal refused to accept that, preferring Mr Dunn's evidence that she had not been sacked.

The carer said she was forced to rely on foodbanks following her dismissal as she struggled financially, until eventually finding work with a social care charity.

She added: "This has caused me so much stress and shattered my confidence. I even had recurring nightmares about it.

"I'm so glad I've been believed. I just want to move on now and try to put it all behind me."

Ms Leonard's solicitor Brian McLaughlin, of Fox and Partners, said he is considering appealing the issue of her dismissal.

Mr Dunn said: "I absolutely refute the allegations that she made. It's unfortunate that the tribunal found against me. My legal people are looking at an appeal."