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Cereal drugs mule to pay back gains; worker smuggled PS100k drugs.

Byline: ROB KENNEDY Court reporter rob.kennedy@reachplc.com

A prison kitchen worker who "sold her soul" by smuggling more than PS100,000 of drugs and other banned items to inmates using cereal boxes has been ordered to pay back her ill-gotten gains.

Lindsey Keir was the trusted insider at HMP Northumberland who enabled others to sneak prohibited goods into the jail under the radar.

She had worked there for 22 years and no-one suspected she would be up to no good.

However she became "trapped in a cycle of greed" after crooks started paying her up to PS1,000 a time to sneak in illicit packages.

A court heard last year how she spent the dirty cash on a mobility scooter for her dad, a new car for her daughter and new windows for her house.

Now prosecutors have accepted she benefited to the tune of PS7,698 from her criminality.

Unusually, the available amount she has is more than four times that at PS33,704 but she only has to pay back the PS7,698.

Keir was not brought back to Newcastle Crown Court for the Proceeds of Crime Act hearing. Her barrister, Peter Schofield, said: "The defendant is serving a sentence until the end of the year, she due for release in November or December."

Keir faces five months imprisonment in default if she does not hand over the money.

As we reported last year, police, acting on a tip off, intercepted her one morning as she was about to enter HMP Northumberland and she was, in her own words, "bang to rights".

Officers found a variety of contraband in boxes of Shredded Wheat and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes in a holdall she was carrying.

Keir, never in trouble before, and the man who gave her one of the packages - Gary Weldon - were jailed while two other men got suspended sentences, last November. Recorder Nicholas Lumley QC told her at that hearing: "Greed got the better of you and, as you put it, you sold your soul.

"You used a reasonably sophisticated method of disguising the items in kitchen equipment such as cereal boxes.

"You became trapped in a cycle of greed.

"You were a vulnerable person for the prisoners to prey upon but you allowed it to happen again and again.

"Prisons are dangerous enough places without drugs. With drugs, they can become places where people are at a greater risk of harm or death."

It was 6.30am on Sunday November 27 2016 when police swooped on Keir as she turned up for work.

When told she was being arrested on suspicion of supplying drugs, she handed over a holdall and said: "OK you had better have these then", adding "I'm bang to rights".

The bag contained two large cereal boxes, a Shredded Wheat box and a Crunchy Nut Cornflakes box.

A brown Jiffy bag within Crunchy Nut Cornflakes box contained a total of 320 Pregabalin capsules, 170 Buprenorphine tablets, 98 Zopiclone tablets, 20 Letrozole tablets, three glass vials of Equipoise anabolic steroid and three mobile phone SIM cards.

The Crunchy Nut Cornflakes box contained 910g of spice.

The Shredded Wheat cereal box contained 787g of a spice, 162g of cannabis resin, 13.6g of cocaine hydrochloride, 105 Buprenorphine tablets, 14 small white tablets, 12 syringes and hypodermic needles, Jack Daniels miniature whisky, a Samsung mobile phone and a Zanco miniature mobile phone.

Other items, which were loose within the bag, were 166g of spice, a Polar GPS sports watch and stride sensor and an Alcatel mobile phone.

The total value of the seized items in the prison environment was estimated to have been PS108,547. Prosecutor Alec Burns said: "Miss Keir was interviewed and said she was relieved to be caught.

"She admitted the offences, saying it had gone on for months and months.

"She said she had been struggling financially, had a daughter at university and thought her wages were about to be reduced.

"She accepted she had make the mistake of saying this in front of prisoners and she was approached by a prisoner who worked with her in the kitchen, asking if she would co-operate by bringing things in." Having initially said no, she agreed to do it. Keir said she had tried to stop it but was asked to take more and more in.

Mr Burns added: "She brought cereal boxes in at least once a month for the last 12 months. She said each time she did it, it made her feel ill."

Keir, of St Lawrence Avenue, Amble, Northumberland, admitted conspiracy to supply prohibited items into prison and possession with intent to supply former legal high spice.

Weldon, 34, of Arther Avenue, Sunderland, whose brother Christopher was serving a life sentence at HMP Northumberland, admitted the same charges.

Both were jailed for two years and eight months.

Ross Reay, 27, of West View, Sunderland and Gavin Richardson, 26, of Nile Street, Sunderland, both admitted possession with intent to supply spice on the basis they helped prepare the packages without realising they were destined for prison.

Reay was sentenced to nine months suspended for two years with 250 hours unpaid work while Richardson got 12 months suspended for two years with 270 hours unpaid work.

CAPTION(S):

Gavin Richardson

Ross Reay

Gary Weldon

Lindsey Keir, jailed for smuggling drugs and other banned items into HMP Northumberland
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 9, 2019
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