Claire Anderson, aged 33, was brought before Sheffield Crown Court on March 31 to be sentenced for her part in the enterprise at HMP Doncaster.
Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, described Anderson’s role as ‘securing the drugs,’ as well as initially helping to smuggle them into prison and allowing around £45,000 of drug money to be paid into her bank account.
Anderson’s co-accused, prison officer Rio Moran, inmate James Millington and Callum Reilly were sentenced for their part in the operation during a hearing held at SCC on March 1.
Millington, 31, of HMP Leeds, was jailed for seven years, nine months after pleading guilty to charges including being concerned in the supply of class B and C drugs into prison; Moran, 30, of Godfrey Place, Halifax, pleaded guilty to charges including conspiring to supply class B drugs into prison and was jailed for two years and Reilly, 30, of no fixed abode, but from the Stockport area, was sentenced to 12 months in prison after admitting to offences including money laundering.
The operation ran between 2017 and 2020, and Judge Richardson said he was in ‘no doubt’ that Millington played a leading role, and described Moran and Riley’s involvement as that of ‘subordinates’.
Judge Richardson described how when the operation began in January 2017, Millington and Anderson used Rule 39 of the Prison Rules, which stipulates that correspondence between a prisoner and their legal adviser may only be checked with approval of the prison governer, to smuggle the Class C drug, Subutex, into HMP Doncaster using ‘bogus’ letters claiming to be from a solicitor.
Another deceitful method used by Millington and associates to smuggle drugs and mobile phones into prison was the creation of a telephone line ‘purporting to be the legitimate number of a solicitor’ which could not be monitored, and as a result, was used by prisoners to make orders for illicit items.
"It’s estimated that Millington had over 80 customers in the prison, each of whom was a prisoner,” said Judge Richardson.
Moran and Reilly joined the enterpise later on, with Moran using her role as a prison officer to bring drugs into prison, putting to an end Anderson and Millington’s need to use bogus letters and phone numbers, while Reilly acted as a ‘delivery man’.
In addition to smuggling Subutex and phones into the prison, the group also tried to smuggle what they believed was the Class B drug, Spice, into prison.
“You sought to smuggle Spice into prison...in fact, it was nothing of the kind,” said Judge Richardson.
Anderson, of Hazelwood Road, Hazel Grove, Stockport pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of Spice and Subutex; conspiracy to supply Spice and conspiracy to convey prohibited items, namely mobile phones, into prison at an earlier hearing.
The court heard Anderson admitted her guilt with a basis of plea that stated she was acting under the ‘control and coercive behaviour’ of Millington, who she was in a relationship with.
In mitigation, Rebecca Stevens said Anderson’s offending was ‘entirely at the direction of Millington’ and she was ‘clearly controlled’ by him on ‘what to do, and what not to do’.
Ms Stevens said Anderson had endured a ‘difficult time’ on remand due to the current prison conditions, which are in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic and mean she has been kept in her prison cell for 23 hours a day.
Judge Richardson jailed Anderson for two years, six months and said while he had taken her mitigation into account it is ‘imperative’ that substantial sentences must follow ‘sophisticated’ criminal enterprises involving smuggling drugs and illicit items into prison.