South Yorkshire prisoner tried to smuggle mobile to pay off cell-mate's drug debt
A South Yorkshire prisoner who tried to smuggle a mobile phone into HMP Moorland was paying off a cell-mate's drug debt, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
But Joe Haigh asked if there was an amnesty box as he was transferred to the prison from HMP Lindholme, on January 16, 2019, said prosecutor Peter Byrne.
After handing the phone over, he told police "he knew it was a prohibited article, but didn't want another inmate to hurt him."
On Thursday, the court heard he has previous convictions for dishonesty, violence and driving offences, dating back to 1999 when he was a juvenile.
He served a five-year sentence for conspiring to handle stolen goods in 2014, and 12 months for "a similar matter" in December 2017.
Richard Davis, mitigating, said: "A cell mate incurred a drug debt which he inherited because he was in the same cell.
"Pressure was put upon him. He has always maintained this account.
"He was placed on the boss chair. He co-operated and duly passed the item over to the authorities.
"He was punished at the time and put on ‘basic’ for 28 days. He was released on December 13, 2019, and he has stayed out of trouble.”
Mr Davis urged Judge Michael Slater to suspend the sentence.
The judge said two factors influenced his decision: the "length of time it's taken this case to come to court" and the fact "he remains the subject of stringent licence conditions until November 16, 2021."
“I am also impressed by the efforts he has made to find employment and learn a trade,” Judge Slater said.
Haigh, 33, of King Street, Thurnscoe, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to attempting to convey a prohibited article into a prison on May 22.
The judge deferred sentence for six months until December 18, and told Haigh: "If you keep out of trouble and obey your licence conditions then in six months I won't send you to prison."
"You have become almost institutionalised over the years," he said. "Had this case been dealt with closer to the time, I think I would have passed a sentence of nine or ten months."