Gosport man swallowed phone in bid to smuggle it out of prison

Winchester Prison
Winchester Prison
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A COUPLE who helped bring steroids and phones into prison for a ‘commercial’ operation run by two cellmates have been jailed.

Rhonda Pack smuggled in contraband to her boyfriend Christopher Byles, who was serving a sentence for arson at HMP Winchester.

Both were sentenced to eight months each by a judge who said smuggling fuelled violence in jail and made criminals on the outside cash.

Southampton Crown Court previously heard the pair were involved in a £47,000 conspiracy run by Suritai Phanthiva and Ben Carr, who was jailed for conspiring to murder mother-of-five Pennie Davis in 2015.

Members of the smuggling ring were jailed in September for bringing in the contraband and money laundering.

Today the court heard how ‘pawn’ Pack, 21, of Greenway Road, Gosport, made nine trips to the jail, twice taking drugs and seven times taking phones.

She was finally caught out when she was searched and found to have 100 tablets of steroids in her bra.

The drugs were worth £20 on the outside but £600 in jail, prosecutor Thomas Horder said.

Phones were sold inside at the cost of £200 apiece, a court previously heard.

Mr Horder told how 28-year-old Byles’ role was distributing the phones and drugs he received from Pack.

Both were described in court as vulnerable and were said to have been forced into taking part due to threats made to Byles, of Minnitt Road, Gosport.

Sentencing, judge Nicholas Rowland said: ‘There are real problems that are caused by phones and drugs being taken into prison.

‘It’s a prevalent offence, it causes all sorts of problems, some extremely serious, right at the top end of the criminal scale of offending as a result of people taking in this sort of contraband.

‘The problems arising when prisoners get in fights and worse trying to get hold of those.

‘And on the outside real money is to made.’

The court heard Byles had previously been sentenced to eight weeks in prison after swallowing a phone – in what the judge said was an ‘unusual’ bid to smuggle it out of prison.

He had been released on licence from his sentence for arson but was recalled within an hour – still with the phone he swallowed in prison inside his stomach.

‘He disclosed while in custody, probably due to the discomfort, the mobile phone,’ his lawyer Daniel Reilly said.

‘He said it had been swallowed in custody.’

Byles had to be taken to hospital to remove the phone.

Both Pack and Byles admitted conspiring to bring, throw or convey mobile phones, a list B article, into Winchester jail between February 2015 and March 2016.

They also admitted conspiring to bring, throw or convey controlled drugs, a list A article, into the prison between June 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.

Mitigating, Mr Reilly said Byles had been subjected to ‘significant pressure, both in the form of actual violence and threats of violence’.

Mother-of-two Pack was a ‘pawn’ and the only one to take risk going into prison to smuggle in the phones and drugs, the court was told.

The pair, who both have drug problems, skipped court last week when they were due to be sentenced as people were looking for them, the court heard.

THE DEFENDANTS

Ben Carr, 25, of HMP Whitemoor, Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to three years on top of his life term with a minimum of 30 years.

Danielle Carr, 30, of Hawkhill, Dibden, was handed 12 months in jail.

Connie Rooke, 26, of Park Mews, Park Gate, was given a four-month term suspended for two years. She has no previous convictions.

Rebecca Vaughan, 24, of Primrose Close, Chandler’s Ford, was sentenced to eight months.

Sophie Lennards, 30, of Faircross Close, Holbury, was sentenced to 15 months.

Suritai Phanthiva, 28, of HMP Erlestoke, Wilthshire, was handed three years consecutive to his current indeterminate sentence for imprisonment for public protection. He was previously given 16 months for conspiring to convey phones into the prison.

Both Carrs, Phanthiva, Byles, Vaughan, Lennards and Pack admitted conspiring to bring, throw or convey mobile phones, a list B article into Winchester prison between February 2015, and March 2016.

Phanthiva, both Carrs, Byles, Lennards, and Pack admitted conspiring to bring, throw or convey controlled drugs, a list A article, into Winchester prison between June 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

Vaughan, Danielle Carr and Rooke also admitted entering into and being concerned in a money laundering arrangement.

Vaughan admitted possession of criminal property in relation to the cash found at her home.