South Shields woman claimed drugs were sweets after smuggling them to prison inmate

Potts was caught on CCTV at HMP Northumberland.
Potts was caught on CCTV at HMP Northumberland.
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A prison visitor who was caught by guards smuggling drugs and phones into prison claimed "they're only sweets".

Kelsey Potts was seen by staff, who were monitoring CCTV, passing a package to an inmate during a visit at HMP Northumberland last September.

Newcastle Crown Court heard when the prisoner was searched, officials found two mobile phones and 36 buprenorphine tablets.

Potts, 19, was arrested and claimed "they're only sweets".

Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court: "She maintained the account that the items passed were food items, rather than those recovered from the prisoner."

Potts, of Brabourne Street, South Shields, who has convictions for 31 previous offences, later admitted two charges taking banned items into a prison.

Mr Recorder Toby Hedworth QC told Potts: "You know, if you didn't before you know now, that the taking or either drugs or phones, particularly taking both, into a prison, is an extremely serious matter indeed because the consequences of the prison population having access to both drugs and mobile telephones leads to very, very major problems for the prison authorities.

"The only way the courts can attempt to dissuade others from doing what you did is to make it clear that custody follows for those who take drugs or telephones into prison.

"In your case, it is inevitable there must be a custodial sentence."

The judge said Potts' custodial sentence could be suspended as her case was "highly exceptional" due to her extreme vulnerability and personal circumstances.

Potts was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements and a three month, night time curfew between 8pm and 6am.

Jennifer Coxon, mitigating, said Potts has had an "extremely difficult" background and endured personal difficulties during her "chaotic" life.

Miss Coxon said Potts' previous offending was when she was a youth and she had not been in trouble since 2015.

Miss Coxon added: "She now understands the seriousness of the offence."