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Prison officer jailed for helping convicted robber escape

A prison officer has been sentenced for helping a convicted robber escape from a Derbyshire jail.

The 33-year-old began a relationship with the inmate while she worked at HMP Dovegate, in Staffordshire, where he was serving a term for his part in the violent robbery of an elderly farmer.

When he was moved to the nearby HMP Sudbury, an open prison in the Derbyshire Dales, the pair continued their relationship – communicating using a mobile phone he had snuck into the facility.

On the evening of 1 October 2019 the inmate escaped from HMP Sudbury, climbing over a fence as staff gave chase. He then fled in a waiting car driven by the prison officer.

The following day, after information was found to suggest a relationship between the pair, an investigation was launched and she was arrested.

While the investigation into the pair continued, she met up with the escapee on at least eight other occasions across the country, before he was eventually found in Bournemouth in March 2020.

He was jailed for six months a month later after admitting escaping lawful custody.

The ex-prison officer, originally from Uttoxeter, previously pleaded guilty to harbouring an escaped prisoner and misconduct in public office. On 10 August, at Derby Crown Court, she was jailed for three years.

Detective Sergeant Heather Saville, from EMSOU's Regional Prison Intelligence Team, said: “This inmate made good his escape thanks, in part, to the assistance of a trusted member of prison staff, tasked to do the absolute opposite.

“We work hard, in partnership with the Prison Service and the prisons themselves, to identify any corruption within our prisons establishment, and this case is a prime example of how far some people are willing to go in their corruption as to assist a man convicted and incarcerated for a violent offence, to walk freely within our communities.”

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