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Daniel Kelly jailed for trying to smuggle goods into HMP Elmley and Swaleside prisons with drone

A father who tried to smuggle prohibited items into prisons using a drone has been jailed for 14 months in the first case of its kind.

Daniel Kelly and others used the £700 flying robot to try to supply inmates with what was believed to the former legal high Spice and tobacco at HMP Elmley and Swaleside in Sheppey, Wandsworth in London and The Mount in Hemel Hempstead.

The 37-year-old asphalter, of Wolfe Crescent, Charlton, south east London, admitted conspiracy to project a drone into prisons between April 15 and May 6 this year.

Stock image
Stock image

A similar charge against his pregnant girlfriend Ingrid Edwards, 25, of the same address, was dropped.

Prosecutor Danny Robinson told Maidstone Crown Court that it was not possible to say what, if anything, was actually flown in the prisons.

Father-of-three Kelly was arrested on April 25 after police officers saw him run and get into an Audi car in Eastchurch. 

The car took off at speed but was found soon afterwards with the drone, which had been painted black, in the boot. 

Data from the SIM or recording card in the drone was downloaded and officers established it had made eight flights to prisons on six occasions.

“However, the prosecution can’t say what, if anything, was attached to the drone,” said Mr Robinson.

Christina Rowberry, defending, said it was originally bought for Kelly’s children to play with.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for somebody to work out there is an unlawful means to use the drone and that is what he ended getting involved in,” she added.

Elmley Prison in Eastchurch
Elmley Prison in Eastchurch

Judge Charles Macdonald QC told Kelly, who has 15 previous convictions including aggravated burglary: “You flew the drone, or attempted to fly the drone, into four different prisons.

“There were eight flights on six occasions. Two others were unsuccessful. The purpose, on the accepted basis of plea, was to send tobacco and legal highs, such as they were, into prisons.

“This was a relatively sophisticated offence which was persistent on a number of days. It was obviously intended to subvert prison discipline and authority.”

The judge said the offence was aggravated by Kelly’s many previous convictions.

He will serve half the sentence in custody and be on licence for a further 12 months with supervision.

An earlier hearing was told that when arrested Edwards smelled of cannabis because she had been smoking it.

Judge Jeremy Carey had called it “serious offending”.

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