Disgraced Chorley prison officer Lauren Joyce had relationship with inmate via 'social media'

HMP Wymott
HMP Wymott
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A prison officer who struck up a relationship with an inmate through illicit mobile phones he had in his cell has walked free from court after her jail sentence was suspended.

Lauren Joyce, 24, of Thirlmere Close, Adlington, Chorley, was given 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office - but must do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Inmate Michael Smith, 29, of Harrops Croft, Bootle, Liverpool, was given six months, also suspended for two years after pleading guilty to possessing a prohibited item inside prison.

Preston Crown Court was told Joyce was was a prison officer at HMP Wymott where prisoner Michael Smith was in custody up until July 19, 2017.

He was serving a four year sentence for possessing heroin with intent to supply.

Smith then transferred to open conditions at HMP Thorn Cross in Warrington.

During his time there they were in contact with each other via phone and social media between July and December.

The prison service received intelligence that they had been in touch with each other. They searched Smith's cell and found two mobile phones.

Joyce admits engaging in repeated telephone contact with the serving prisoner through the means of two mobile telephones which she knew he was not allowed to be in possession of, while Smith admitted possessing two phones inside a prison between September and December 2017.

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, ordered a second charge against Joyce - encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence, namely possession of a prohibited article in prison - to lie on the file. Similarly a charge of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence - namely by encouraging a serving prison officer to engage in a relationship via social media and telephone contact - will also lie on the file.

It is the third such case to shock Lancashire in less than two years.

In January 2017 Chorley gran Alison Sharples was jailed for nine months after having an affair with an inmate while working at neighbouring jail HMP Garth.

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And in July 2017, Jennifer Forshaw, 28, who worked as an English teacher at the same jail as Joyce, was jailed for 21 months after forming a relationship with her inmate lover Ian Howard.

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