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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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Haverigg prison smuggling warning after group is jailed

POLICE and prison chiefs have issued a stern warning to people tempted to smuggle goods into Cumbria’s only prison, saying they will face the full force of the law.

A three-man gang who attempted to do just that last week found themselves on the wrong side of the prison wall after a judge imposed hefty sentences for the crime.

Two of the three – Philip Crothers, 25, and Keith Gillan, 35 – had admitted trying to get nine mobile phones and drugs, including steroids, into Haverigg prison by cramming them into a sock which they planned to lob over the perimeter fence. A third man, 25-year-old Mark McCracken, denied the same offences but was convicted by a jury of trying to smuggle the phones into the jail. He was found not guilty of the drugs offence.

All three were caught after they travelled from their homes in Carlisle with the contraband. The city’s crown court was told that the men’s intention had been to get the phones and drugs into the hands of a professional Cumbrian drug dealer who, at the time, was serving a four-year sentence there.

Commenting after the case, Detective Chief Inspector Rob O’Connor said their crime had struck at the heart of the criminal justice system. He said: “Smuggling those phones into the prison would allow criminals inside the jail to continue with their criminality and maintain their associations on the outside.”

In UK prisons, inmates get an approved list of landline phone contacts and their communication with the outside world is tightly controlled. There is also evidence that some inmates first develop drug addictions while serving their sentence.

DCI O’Connor added: “Anybody thinking of smuggling goods into a prison should be aware that this is a serious offence and we have techniques and intelligence that means there is a very good chance they will be detected.”

Anyone smuggling drugs into jail faces a possible maximum jail term of up to 10 years, while smuggling a phone inside can attract a sentence of up to two years.

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