The Facebook boast of prisoner which uncovered gang's drug smuggling operation
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The boast by inmate Nathan Aldus, 30, from South Shields, led to substances including Spice, a debtors list, tiny mobile phones and accessories being found in the cell he shared with Daniel McArdle, from Sunderland.
He claimed on Facebook that they were “HMP Durham’s main men” who were rolling in Rolexes and iPhones and had made £13,000, Durham Crown Court heard on Monda, June 22.
Items were smuggled into the prison when his then-partner Kelly Raper recruited a 14-year-old boy to wear a pair of trainers featuring a secret compartment during visits, who then swapped shoes with Aldus under the table.
The court heard up to 17 trips were made between December 2017 and January 2018.
Now mum-of-six Raper, 39, known as Grace Elrick and also of South Shields, and Aldus’s mother Iris Aldus, 47, have been sentenced for their part in the venture.
Gavin Doig, mitigating, said Raper was pushed into it by strangers, including one armed with a gun.
Raper, who admitted two counts conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison, has been given a four-month jail term, suspended for two years, with a three-month curfew and a 30-day rehabilitation requirement.
Iris Aldus’ pleaded guilty to two charges of conveying a Class B article into prison.
Shaun Routledge, mitigating, said she had “pandered” to him and helped after a cellmate died and was left in the room for several hours.
He explained Aldus, of Wroxhall Drive in Grantham, Lincolnshire, had moved from South Shields after being chased by “many” of her son's debtors, but then moved back to look after her ill father.
She was given a two-year community order, with a 30-day rehabilitation requirement and a 14-day curfew.
Last week, Nathan Aldus was handed a 39 month prison sentence after admitting possession of a class B drug with intent to supply, two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison and another of possession of a class C drug with intent to supply.
Detective Constable Bri Carter, from North East Regional Special Operations Unit, said: “Spice is a powerful and dangerous drug which causes serious problems in our prisons and significant misery on our streets.
“Nathan Aldus hoped to profit from that misery and couldn’t resist boasting about it on social media.
“He is now facing a lengthy prison sentence and will have plenty of time behind bars to regret his remarks.
“Our wider message to anyone considering this type of criminal activity is that we will not tolerate this behaviour: we will gather the evidence, take you to court and you can expect a lengthy prison sentence.”
The teenager, now aged 17, has been given a two-year conditional discharge after admitting two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison.
McArdle, who is serving a life sentence for an assault, admitted two counts of possessing Class B and Class C drugs with intent to supply, and given two six-month concurrent terms.