Probation officer who smuggled £6,500 of drugs and phones into Leeds prison 'will be jailed'

A probation officer who tried to smuggle more than £6,500 worth of drugs and phones into a Leeds jail has been told she will be locked up.
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Alice Graham "became close" with a prisoner having spent just a few months in the job, agreeing to bring in a list of items he requested packed into a Lucozade bottle. She was caught when security decided to conduct random staff searches at the category C jail, HMP Wealstun in Wetherby, in May 2021.

The 28-year-old is due to be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court today. She appeared earlier this week where the case was adjourned for further details to be ascertained about the prisoner. Graham, of Cardigan Road, Headingley, was granted bail until today, but Judge Kate Rayfield told her: "I make it plain, it will be a term of immediate imprisonment."

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Graham qualified in the role in March 2021 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. She bought a new mobile phone and gave him her number.

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 about her. 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.

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She was supplied with an address to collect the items and drugs where they were handed over to her. She contacted the prisoner and said she had collected them and would bring them to him. 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 then told the officer: "I need to speak to someone."

She produced the bottle and was arrested. During her police interview she claimed she was going to hand the bottle over to the authorities and felt "under pressure" to make the delivery.

Graham tried to smuggle the contraband into HMP Wealstun. (pic by National World)Graham tried to smuggle the contraband into HMP Wealstun. (pic by National World)
Graham tried to smuggle the contraband into HMP Wealstun. (pic by National World)

But 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.

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She admitted a charge 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. She is due to be sentenced this morning.

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