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Church-going gran Sarah Fuller caught smuggling drugs to armed robber David Jackson she befriended at Swaleside Prison on Isle of Sheppey

A religious grandmother befriended a prisoner to encourage him to repent - and ended up trying to supply him with drugs, a court heard.

Sarah Fuller claimed she was threatened and persuaded to smuggle cannabis into Swaleside Prison, Sheppey, for the convicted armed robber.

The 55-year-old was caught with 9.6 grammes of the drug hidden in a Kinder egg before she was able to hand it over to inmate David Jackson.

Swaleside Prison in Eastchurch
Swaleside Prison in Eastchurch

But the mother-of-five was spared an immediate jail sentence after a judge decided there were exceptional circumstances.

Fuller, of Shenley, Radlett, Hertfordshire, was sentenced to five months' imprisonment suspended for two years after admitting supplying drugs and taking items - SIM cards - into prison.

Recorder Noel Lucas QC said the prosecution was not able to disprove her claim that Jackson had threatened her and he, therefore, had to proceed on the basis "it might be true".

Maidstone Crown Court heard Fuller had made previous visits when she was arrested on November 30 last year.

Prosecutor Kieran Brand said prison officers watched her carefully as there was suspicion she had passed other unlawful items to the inmate on earlier occasions.

She went to the tea bar, took something from the waistband of her trousers, put it on her tray and covered it with a tissue.

Officers pounced and seized the Kinder egg containing the cannabis worth about £100. Mr Brand said the value in prison would be considerably more.

Trouble at HMP Swaleside has been blamed on understaffing
Trouble at HMP Swaleside has been blamed on understaffing

Parveen Mansoor, defending, said a daughter of Fuller’s worked as a legal assistant in London chambers and a son was an anti-social behavioural officer.

She attended church and was involved in spiritual healing. Her church encouraged members to write to prisoners to help them repent.

"She wrote to Mr Jackson to help him see the error of his ways," said Miss Mansoor. "This was a grandmother dealing with a serious armed robber on a Securicor van. She was completely out of her depth.

"She now believes his intention all along was simply to use her, to coerce her into bringing him drugs. She was incredibly embarrassed by her behaviour and couldn't raise it with her family.

"She has learnt a lesson. It is a one off. She felt sorry for him. It is a very sad and sorry state of affairs."

Fuller wept as Recorder Lucas told her: "Smuggling drugs into prison will be treated extremely seriously and as a result there will be a custodial sentence.

"You cannot have done it without knowing the risks. You took that risk. You have two very sensible children who would have counselled you had you sought their advice."

Suspending the sentence, he added: "I am giving you a chance. Please don't waste it."

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