A mother caught trying to smuggle drugs into prison said she had been forced to act as a mule after threats were made against her inmate son, a court has heard. A sniffer dog detected the contraband being carried by Nicola Hexter under her clothing along with five sim cards for mobile phones.
The defendant’s barrister said Hexter’s actions in trying to get the drugs into prison were not a determined attempt to disrupt life behind bars but were “a desperate and scared mother seeking to protect her child at all costs”. Sending the 42-year-old-year-old down a judge said drugs were a valuable currency in a custodial setting and their presence undermined the good order of a prison and he said those who try to convey them into prison can expect a sentence of immediate custody.
Christen Murphy, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court that on January 16 this year Hexter attended HMP Parc near Bridgend for a scheduled visit with her son who is a serving inmate at the prison. She said security staff noticed the visitor appeared “fidgety” but a search of her clothing found nothing untoward. However a sniffer dog then sat down in front of the defendant – an indication of the presence of drugs. The court heard the woman was taken into a private room and was asked if she was carrying any prohibited items and she replied: “I was forced.” Officers recovered almost 24g of synthetic drugs including a synthetic cannabinoid from under her clothing along with five mobile sim cards.
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The court heard that in her subsequent police interview the defendant said she had received a phone call from somebody she did not know telling her that unless she carried items into prison something would happen to her son. She said on the day in question she had been collected by a woman in a car who handed over the package she was to take to Parc. A subsequent search of the defendant’s house uncovered a small amount of amphetamine and a number of mobile phones wrapped in cling film. Get the latest crime and court stories sent straight to your email inbox with our free newsletter
Nicola Hexter, of Broadwell Close, Trowbridge, Cardiff, had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of conveying prohibited items into prison and to the simple possession of amphetamine when she appeared in the dock for sentencing. She has two previous convictions for three offences and at the time of the Parc incident was subject to a suspended prison sentence for helping her son to breach a restraining order in regard to his girlfriend.
Hywel Davies, for Hexter, said they were his instructions that the mother-of-four had been pressurised into taking the items to Parc. He said the evens of January 16 were not a determined effort by the defendant to disrupt prison life but were the actions of “a desperate and scared mother seeking to protect her child at all costs”.
Judge Daniel Williams said drugs had a greater value in a custodial setting than out in the community where they were a form of “currency” that undermined good order and discipline in the prison estate. He said a prison sentence followed for those who conveyed such items into prison. With one-third discounts for her guilty pleas Hexter was sentenced to six months in prison for the conveying offences and the judge activated three months of the previously-imposed suspended sentence to run consecutively making an overall sentence of nine months in prison. The defendant will serve up to half the overall sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
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