Conveying Prohibited Articles into Prison – Suspended Sentence
Senior Crown Court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier recently represented a client charged with conveying prohibited articles into prison. In this case it was cannabis and mamba, List A and List C items.
Sarah’s client was in a difficult position because the sentence for such offences is almost inevitably a prison sentence. In this case his position was worse as he had been convicted before of a similar offence. In that case he had received a six month prison sentence. As a result, if convicted , prison would seem inevitable.
Detained with Cannabis and Mamba
Sarah’s client had attempted to enter Nottingham Prison with two wraps of what he thought was mamba in his underwear. He was stopped because a sniffer dog indicated that he ought to be searched. When the items were discovered he immediately said he believed it was mamba. When it was tested only one wrap was found to contain mamba. The other contained cannabis although the wraps looked very similar in appearance.
The difference was potentially important in terms of sentence. Cannabis was a List A article, whereas Mamba was not. The maximum sentence was 10 years in prison, whereas the penalty for a List C article was a fine.
The prosecution was persuaded that Sarah’s client could be sentenced on the basis that he believed that he was bringing a List C article into the prison. Despite his record the court was persuaded to adjourn the case for a pre-sentence report.
At our client’s request, we instructed counsel Ben Isaacs of 7 Bedford Row Chambers. Following extensive mitigation the Judge was persuaded that the inevitable prison sentence could be suspended. He received an 8 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months with community elements because of these arguments.
The Current Law on Conveying Prohibited Articles into Prison
Once an individual had knowingly conveyed a package containing any prohibited article into prison he was criminally liable for the contents. As a result, a person will bear the risk of a significant sentence even when they thought that they were bringing in a less serious, List C item.
Their belief is likely to be important mitigation, but cannot be a defence.
Contact Crown Court Litigator Sarah Lees-Collier
If you face an allegation of conveying prohibited articles into prison or any other criminal offence then please contact Sarah. She can be reached at our Nottingham office on 0115 9599550 or alternatively you can contact her using the form below.