Schoolboy, 14, smuggled drugs and phones into prison using secret compartment in trainers

A schoolboy was recruited to smuggle drugs and mobile phones into prison wearing a pair of trainers with a secret compartment in them.

The then 14-year-old, from South Shields, was drawn into smuggling Spice, phones, leads and chargers into HMP Durham by Kelly Raper, who is not related to him.

Durham Crown Court heard he wore the specially-adapted footwear filled with contraband during visits to Raper’s then-partner Nathan Aldus, who would swap shoes with him underneath the table.

A total of 17 visits were made by the boy and Raper, 39, now known as Grace Elrick and also of South Shields, between the start of October 2017 and January 2018.

Some of the drugs and phones recovered during the investigation.

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Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said Facebook activity sparked a search of the cell shared by Aldus and Sunderland man Daniel McArdle in December 2017, with claims they were “making a killing”, were “rolling in Rolexes and iPads” and that Aldus had already made £13,000.

Drugs worth £7,500, including spice were found with a debtors list, phones and kit, while another phone found two days later contained information referred to the supply of drugs and called prison a “closed market, subject to supply and demand.”

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A third search in January, as Aldus shared a cell with another man, found more Spice, estimated to be worth £1,300.

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Aldus, 30, of no fixed abode, has been jailed for 39 months for admitting possession of a class B drug with intent to supply, with no separate penalty after he admitted two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison and another of possession of a class C drug with intent to supply.

Chris Knox, mitigating, said Aldus had been put under “considerable pressure” to take part by others, who would not put themselves at risk of being caught.

Raper pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison, and was remanded in prison until Monday, June 22, when she will be sentenced.

Defending Gavin Doig said one of the men who delivered items to Raper to be smuggled into the prison was armed with a handgun.

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He told the court: “Ms Elrick [Raper] was vulnerable to pressure, pressure that was brought to bear on her by people she did not know, who came to her door to tell her she needed to do it.”

The boy, now 17 who cannot be named for legal reasons pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison on the day his trial was due to begin. He was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge, and warned that the matter would be on his record if he ever offended again.

The judge told him: “There was probably no profit that you made, although there is some reference to probation you expected a motorbike for your end, but I anticipate you did not get it.

“For one, I’m going to give you the benefit of doubt because you were only a child at the time.”

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McArdle, who is serving a life sentence for an assault, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing Class B and Class C drugs with intent to supply and was sentenced to six months each count, to run concurrently.

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