Peterborough prison officer jailed for smuggling drugs for inmates

A 'weak' Peterborough Prison officer who said he was bullied by inmates into smuggling drugs into jail deserved his sentence, senior judges ruled yesterday.

Friday, 24th March 2017, 8:19 am
Updated Monday, 27th March 2017, 1:18 pm
HMP Peterborough

James Turner, 28, had only been in his job at the Category-B jail for eight months when he was caught in a major police investigation in 2015.

On his arrival for a shift that October, he was searched and found with 17 sachets of synthetic cannabis, hidden in his underwear.

He admitted misconduct and conveying banned articles into prison and was jailed for three years and four months at Cambridge Crown Court last July.

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On Thursday, July 24, rejecting an appeal against the sentence, senior judges said tough terms were needed to discourage such crimes.

“This is an appalling problem in prisons,” Sir Brian Leveson told the Court of Appeal in London.

The court heard the police investigation into contraband at the prison had lasted from March until October 2015.

Turner, of Barnstock, Peterborough, said he had been pressured into smuggling drugs and mobile phone SIM cards in by two inmates.

When his house was searched, the empty wrappings of SIM cards were found.

And in his locker at the jail, police found a phone with numbers associated with the prisoners stored on it.

Appealing yesterday, his barrister Louis French said Turner had been a rookie at the time and under considerable pressure.

“At one stage, he brought the fact he was under pressure to his superiors, but the matter went no further,” he told the court.

“Thereafter, he felt himself under threat. For him, it was quite severe pressure to which he succumbed

“There is no doubt he was weak and should not have caved in.

“He was weak, exactly the wrong type of person to be a prison officer.”

Mr French said the sentence could be cut because of the difficult time Turner will have in jail, where he will be treated as “the enemy” by inmates and guards alike.

But rejecting the appeal, Mr Justice Garnham, sitting with Sir Brian and Mr Justice Jay, said the sentence imposed was appropriate.

“There is nothing even arguably excessive about a total sentence of three years and four months for criminal behaviour of this sort,” he said.

“The fact he was a relatively new officer does not justify a lower sentence.

“He was a prison officer and, in breach of the trust reposed in him, he engaged in criminal conduct incompatible with his duty.”

The appeal was dismissed and Turner’s sentence upheld.