Man jailed for Durham Prison drugs bid

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A MAN who tried to take a £10 wrap of heroin into Durham Prison has been jailed for three-and-half years.

Peter Ratcliffe was caught on CCTV in the prison’s visiting area with the wrap in his cupped hand, Durham Crown Court heard.

Click here to read our story on drug problems at Durham Prison

Prosecutor Deborah Sherwin said: “He later told police he had been given the drugs by a stranger outside the jail, but had been unable to find anywhere to dispose of them.”

The court heard Ratcliffe passed five public rubbish bins on his way into the prison, and he could have put the wrap into an “honesty box” in the prison’s reception area.

Ratcliffe, 35, of Richmond Road, South Shields, denied possessing a class A drug with intent to supply it on to another on March 1, last year. He was found guilty after a trial.

David Comb, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Ratcliffe is a former heroin user who foolishly agreed to do someone a favour.

“This was a small amount of heroin, the attempt to bring it into the prison was unsophisticated, and there was no financial gain.

“The inevitable sentence will impact upon his 16-year-old daughter and his mother, who both depend on him for their care.”

Recorder Darren Preston said: “You have been convicted on overwhelming evidence by a jury who saw through your preposterous account of what happened that day.