A PRISONER was caught using a mobile phone in his cell by warders using electronic detection equipment.
Durham Crown Court heard illegal phone use is “rife” in Durham Prison, and staff with the equipment patrol the jail’s wings in a bid to catch offenders.
Sean Dryden, prosecuting, said: “At about 10pm, warders using the mobile detection device were alerted to a phone in a cell in B wing.
“The cell was occupied by Paul Momat and another prisoner.
“It was clear from looking into the cell that Momat was the prisoner using the phone.
“He admitted that was the case, and later told the governor he had been using the phone to contact his mother and girlfriend.
“Mobile phone use has become rife in the prison, so the governor ordered the police to be called.”
Momat, 27, formerly of Ferry Approach, South Shields, admitted using a prohibited communications device in prison, contrary to the Prison Act, on October 16.
Momat was sentenced to eight years last month for conspiracy to rob the 66-year-old owner of a tyre business in South Shields.
Graeme Cook, defending, said: “Mr Momat was awaiting sentence for the conspiracy when the phone offence occurred.
“He bought the phone for £20 from someone in the prison’s canteen.
“It was his first time in prison and he was trying to sort out domestic problems.
“There is no suggestion he was using the phone for anything sinister.”
Judge Christopher Prince sentenced Momat to four months in prison, to start at the end of his current sentence.
The judge told him: “The problems caused by mobile phones in prison are well-known.
“They can be used to arrange for drugs to be brought into prison, or for threats to be issued from inside the jail.
“It is vital for the safety of prisoners and staff that mobile phone use is prevented.
“I accept you were only trying to sort out problems at home, but there must be an extra period in custody to deter other prisoners from obtaining and using mobiles.”
The judge ordered the mobile phone and charger to be confiscated and destroyed.