Leeds probation officer jailed for three years for smuggling drugs and phones into prison

A probation officer who tried to smuggle thousands of pounds worth of drugs and phones into a Leeds prison after becoming close to a prisoner has been handed a three-year jail term.
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Alice Graham was told she was "naive" after being persuaded by a prisoner to sneak a Lucozade bottle full of contraband into HMP Wealstun.

Sentencing her at Leeds Crown Court this afternoon, Judge Kate Rayfield said: "He [the prisoner] was far more experienced in the criminal justice system than you. The relationship crossed acceptable professional boundaries. You abused the trusted position as a probation officer."

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Graham, 28, "became close" with the prisoner having spent just a few months in the job. Giving evidence in court today, she said that the prisoner had been "very, very engaging" and had "opened up", but conceded it was a "ruse".

She also said never received a penny "and never intended to". She was caught when security conducted random searches at the category C jail, HMP Wealstun in Wetherby, in May 2021.

Graham, of Cardigan Road, Headingley only qualified in the role in March 2020 and was given a "caseload of prisoners", prosecutor Jonathan Sharp told the court.

Among them was one prisoner whom she later claimed she felt sorry for, and he was "keen" to stay in touch after his release.

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He was due to be released to a bail hostel in Scunthorpe, and Graham was later found to have conducted internet searches for hotels nearby, but she maintained it was on behalf of the prisoner's girlfriend, which was accepted by the Crown.

Graham also had a conversation with a colleague about relationships with prisoners and rumours began circulating. The prisoner then asked her to bring in the list of items in an empty bottle for him, including a 32gb memory stick, eight SIM cards, three mobile phones with chargers, two syringes, steroids, testosterone, tobacco, cigarette papers, spice, ketamine, cocaine, cannabis and MDMA pills.

Alice Graham, who has been locked up.Alice Graham, who has been locked up.
Alice Graham, who has been locked up.

She was supplied with an address to collect the items and drugs where they were handed over to her. The value was estimated to be between £6,415 and £6,695.

On May 26, 2021, she travelled to HMP Wealstun with the packed Lucozade bottle in her jacket pocket. But she began to panic when told she needed to remove her coat and be searched at the entrance. She produced the bottle and was arrested.

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The Crown said there was no hint of pressure or manipulation during recorded conversations of the pair. She was also trained to spot tell-tale signs and raise the alarm if she felt under pressure from manipulative prisoners, which she failed to do.

She admitted charges of conveying prohibited articles into a prison. Mitigating on her behalf, Matthew Harding said: "She was manipulated to some degree by the prisoner. It became more and more serious and she became more and more out of her depth.

"She maintains it was not a commercial enterprise for her part. If there was a chain, there was no influence on it."

He said that despite losing her job with the Probation Service, she was back in employment within days.