Published: 06:00, 21 January 2020
| Updated: 15:49, 22 January 2020
A rail worker helping to rehabilitate inmates at HMP Rochester has now joined them permanently... after being locked up himself.
Jared Ismail was "coerced and pressured" into taking drugs into the jail after he informed guards he had seen a package thrown over a prison wall during one of his sessions.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the consequences of his honesty was being ordered by those responsible for the illicit parcel to "pay off" the debt they claimed he had incurred.
The 29-year-old then began to receive sinister telephone calls and messages, including a note left on his desk which referred to his family.
He eventually succumbed to the threats and, during a lunch break outside the prison walls, was given cocaine, cannabis, and three mobile phones.
It was as he returned to work that he was caught with the 36.1g of skunk cannabis hidden in a drinks container. A further search then revealed 6.92g of cocaine and the phones.
It happened in October 2018.
Ismail admitted three offences of conveying prohibited articles into prison and was jailed for 20 months.
Glowing testimonials from ex-offenders he had helped and their families were provided for the sentencing hearing.
Judge Philip Statman described the case as "wholly exceptional" and one of the most "upsetting and tragic" he had ever dealt with.
But he added although he accepted the threats were "serious, immediate, and made by extremely dangerous men", a custodial sentence was inevitable.
"Instead of going to the police, which would have been the correct course, and no doubt because of the fears and pressures on you, you took the wrong path," he told Ismail.
"Those threats led you to embark on a course of conduct you would never have ordinarily taken."
"Instead of going to the police, which would have been the correct course, and no doubt because of the fears and pressures on you, you took the wrong path"
Referring to what he described as "uplifting and moving" testimonials, he added: "You have shown a total commitment to helping ex cons.
"You are in every way a decent family man and human being.
"I find this case wholly exceptional. It is the weakness of the world in which debt takes one on a different course of action and leads to a decent man being sent to prison.
"It gives me absolutely no pleasure."
The court heard Ismail, an engineer, was working in the prison at the time on behalf of rail services firm Hills Bridge, based in Grays, Essex, providing inmates with training ahead of their release.
Prosecutor Mike Hollis told the court he had previously "drawn attention to himself" in July 2018 after informing guards an illegal package had been thrown over a prison wall.
Ismail, of Southbury Road, Enfield, started to receive threats telling him he would "need protection". Another referred to his mother by name.
The court heard when he was due to start a second course at the same prison in October he raised concerns about returning.
But he was told he could not report any incidents anonymously as he wished because he was neither a prison officer nor employee.
Further threats were then received, including the note, and Ismail finally agreed to the demands.
"The avenue of reporting matters to police remained but he didn't avail himself to that," said Mr Hollis.
David Osborne, defending, said Ismail had initially worked with former prisoners already released from custody before his firm was also asked to provide in-house training.
"This was a man frightened for himself and frightened for his family"
But he told the court Ismail's friendliness and naivety were exploited by "one or two" of the men he was helping to rehabilitate.
He then misjudged what he should do and made a "disastrous" decision.
"This was a man frightened for himself and frightened for his family," said Mr Osborne.
The threats even continued after his arrest, the court heard.
One of Ismail's bosses was emailed by an inmate who, in what was described as a "proper rant", said he had been "made to look a fool".
Mr Osborne added: "He said if Jared Ismail ever found himself in prison he would be met with severe violence.
"This was the type of person he was dealing with and was frightened of."
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More by this authorPaul Hooper