Girlfriend of prisoner tried to smuggle £33,000 worth of cocaine by hugging him during Forest Bank visit
Samantha Turner, 36, has been jailed after she admitted trying to hand over the items
The girlfriend of a prisoner at Forest Bank tried to smuggle in £33,000 worth of cocaine as well as Spice and mobile phones during a prison visit, a court heard.
Samantha Turner, 36, has been jailed after she admitted trying to hand over the items when she went to hug prisoner Stephen Benson in the Salford prison.
They both stood up and hugged each other, but prison staff noticed that Benson put his hands under the coat Turner was wearing as if he was fumbling for something, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Benson then took a black package, a taped up box the size of a child’s shoe box, and stuffed it down his tracksuit trousers.
The package was seized and was found to contain 10.96g of high purity cocaine, which prosecutors said could be worth anything from £16,000 to £33,200 inside prison.
There was also 14.22g of Spice, with a potential value of £1,442 in prison.
Such drugs can be worth anywhere up to 10 times their normal value inside the custodial environment, the court was told.
It also contained two iPhones, four small Xanco mobile phones, nine sim cards as well as phone chargers.
The court heard Turner said she thought the package contained a phone battery, Rizla papers and some tobacco.
Judge Richard Mansell QC said he couldn’t accept this claim, ‘given the size of the package concerned and the common knowledge that drugs and phones are the two most highly prized commodities for prisoners’.
The judge added: “It simply wouldn’t have been worth the risk to smuggle tobacco and a battery into prison and the size and weight of the package you received was clearly inconsistent with your claim.
“In any event, you willingly accepted a package which you were unable to examine and agreed to smuggle it to a prisoner, therefore it is neither defence nor mitigation of the seriousness of your offending.”
Defending, Neil Usher said Turner has had a ‘very difficult life’, and that she was emotionally vulnerable at the time.
She had been in an abusive relationship, and believed ‘she had finally met someone who understood and cared about her’.
Mr Usher said her relationship with Benson was ‘abusive and coercive’, and she began to suffer from poor mental health.
They knew each other when they were teenagers and had recently got back in touch on social media, the court heard.
Mr Usher said Turner, who has since moved to Plymouth and is in a new relationship, was asked by Benson to take in the package during the visit, on December 14, 2017.
He said she had been ‘exploited’.
Judge Mansell sentenced Turner to 18 months in prison.
Sentencing, the judge said: “The message must go out loud and clear from these courts that anyone who smuggles illicit items into prison, especially controlled drugs and phones, should expect to receive an immediate custodial sentence regardless of personal mitigation.”
Turner, of Ocean Street, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to two counts of conveying list A articles into prison, and four counts of conveying list B articles into prison.