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Prison drug smuggler told to pay back cash.

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

APRISON 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 additional imprisonment in default if she does not hand over the money.

Keir, never in trouble before, and the man who gave her one of the packages, Gary Weldon, were jailed last November, while two other men received suspended sentences.

Police initially swooped at 6.30am on Sunday, November 27, 2016.

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 brown Jiffy bag in one box contained a total of 320 Pregabalin capsules, 170 Buprenorphine tablets, 98 Zopiclone tablets, 20 Letrozole tablets, three glass vials of Equipoise anabolic steroid, three mobile phone SIM cards, and 910g of spice.

The other box contained 787g of a spice, 162g of cannabis, 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 made 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, 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.

Mr Schofield, for single parent Keir, said she had suffered depression and bereavements.

She was not involved in preparing the packages and Mr Schofield added: "She's ashamed of what she did.

"She had no real lavish lifestyle, she spent it on those close to her."

Mr Schofield said she "breathed a sigh of relief at being caught" as she had been unable to bring what was happening to an end.

Christopher Morrison, for Weldon, said he was only involved with preparing one box and "was simply a link in a chain".

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 9, 2019
Words:798
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