A WOMAN from Whitefield has been spared jail time after sneaking hundreds of pounds worth of drugs into a North Wales prison when visiting her partner.

Clare Richards, 33, of Cambridge Grove, was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years after admitting charges of conveying prohibited articles into a prison.

Mold Crown Court was told that in July 2018, Richards was visiting HMP Berwyn in Wrexham where she was found to be concealing a parcel containing drugs with a prison value of more than £1,400 under her skirt.

David Mainstone, prosecuting, said Richards had been searched by a prison officer prior to an arranged visit with her partner Mathew Kearney – who the court was told had his current sentence extended by six months as a result of these offences.

He said officers found nothing of note when conducting a pat down search and allowed Richards to meet with Kearney.

However, they gathered suspicion when staff noticed the pair were getting ‘very intimate’ and it was clear to officers that Kearney was attempting to put his hand between Richards' legs.

It was said that CCTV images captured Richards reaching under her skirt and removing a package which Kearney then stuffed down the front of his trousers.

As he was leaving the visiting hall, Kearney was searched and was found to be in possession of tobacco and four types of steroid drug – with almost 200 tablets recovered in total.

The prosecution reasoned that this was far beyond anything that a lone user could consume personally. He adds that the estimated prison value of the drug ranged between £490 and £1,477.

When interviewed by police, Richards gave no comment answers to all questions.

Estelle Parkhouse, defending, said Richards had made her first appearance before the magistrates in February 2020, almost two years on from the original offence – where guilty pleas were indicated but committed to the crown court for sentencing.

She said Richards had resumed a relationship with Kearney and had been going to the prison to see him on a regular basis.

She argued that Richards had done something which was ‘wholly out of character’ and is aware these are serious offences but said the mum-of-two – who is of previous good character - has children that rely on her.

It was said that Richards was ‘naive’ and ‘took pity’ on her partner.

It was determined by the probation service that Richards was deemed as a low risk of reoffending and she could be managed best within the community as opposed to custody.

Judge Niclas Parry told Richards that drugs being brought into prisons is a problem of ‘epidemic proportions’ and says that people will only realise the severity of the situation and bring the issue to a stop by knowing that there are serious consequences to these actions.

He said: “Drugs in prisons is a problem that has reached epidemic proportions. It causes ill-discipline, it puts prisoners and staff at risk, it causes bullying and intimidation. You, by deliberately knowing what you were doing – not acting under any pressure or duress – simply chose to take a risk.”

He added there was significant mitigation to giving an immediate custodial sentence – including her remorse and early guilty admissions.

He ordered that, on top of the suspended sentence, that Richards should carry out unpaid work for 180 hours. The judge also ordered a forfeiture and destruction order to be made on the drugs that were seized.