Shropshire Star

Prison officer who kissed inmate in cell and smuggled phone in 'just' avoids jail herself

A "naive" prison officer who 'fell in love' with an inmate, kissing him in his cell and smuggling a phone so they could stay in touch during an inappropriate relationship, has narrowly avoid going to jail herself.

India Jobson worked at HMP Featherstone when she entered a relationship with an inmate

India Jobson, who worked at HMP Featherstone, smuggled a phone into the jail, exchanged calls, received love letters and enjoyed intimate moments with Craig Hession as they planned a future together.

The 24-year-old from Lichfield Road in Stafford, was told she had undermined the public's trust and should never have been a prison officer, two months after she admitted misconduct in public office by having a relationship and bringing a prohibited item into the jail she worked at.

Stafford Crown Court heard on Friday how prison officers were first alerted to concerns she was having an inappropriate relationship with Mr Hession in March 2020, just two months after she started working at HMP Featherstone.

Prosecutor Mr Ben Stanley said she was strip searched on a number of occasions when she arrived for shifts, but nothing was ever found on her. However, during a search of his cell on September 25 2020, Mr Hession - who was not voluntarily told staff he had a mobile phone and a charger hidden in his sock. The phone had been smuggled a week earlier in by Jobson who had registered it near her home address.

"On November 24 officers recovered notes from Craig Hession's cell," Mr Stanley continued. "They detailed his love for the defendant and wanting to make a life together." The court heard how they contained lines in which he talked about 'the way you kiss me and the way you touch my hand', while other notes were more sexually explicit.

The following day Jobson told a fellow prison officer that she had kissed the inmate in his cell, a cleaning cupboard and another cupboard, and said they were in love. She then went to resign but the acting deputy governor of the prison handed her a letter saying she was suspended immediately.

Jobson was arrested on December 2 2020 and gave a no comment interview, however a search of her phone showed she had also been in contact with Mr Hession's mother.

More love letters to Jobson were intercepted in which Mr Hession wrote he couldn't wait for them to spend their lives together, before the pair spoke by phone on December 19 and Christmas Eve 2020. In another letter intercepted on December 29 he expressed regret that she had not destroyed the phone and concern she would get into trouble.

Further intercepted letters in early 2021 contained a prayer card, a crucifixion necklace and a note thanking her for her help.

When Jobson's Facebook profile was checked in April 2022, it listed her as being engaged to Mr Hession and that she was friends with a woman thought to be his mother.

"Aggravating factors are a breach and abuse of a position of the public's trust," Mr Stanley added. "This is not a one-off moment, it's quite a long period of time. Even after intervention from the prison service, contact is resumed."

Mitigating, Katherine O' Reilly admitted there was an abuse of a position of trust, but said while some prisoners use smuggled phones for nefarious purposes, that did not happen in this case.

"She's been deeply fearful of the outcome of today. She is a young lady, only 24. She was 21 at the time the offences took place," she said, adding that Jobson behaved "completely out of character and recklessly".

She also said the 24-year-old accepted she must face the consequences and realised there was a chance she would end the day behind bars.

Describing Jobson as someone with "real vulnerabilities", she went on to tell the court how the then-prison officer felt isolated during the Covid lockdown, had little support, and that when she lost her job she was "losing the only person who supported her".

"Many times it's the more vulnerable members of staff targeted by prisoners and asked to bring items in," she said. "I think it's plain to see there was an element of inmaturity looking at her Facebook profile. She has done a great deal of growing up in the last two years," adding that Jobson is now in a relationship with a man she has known for a long time.

Recorder Jason Macadam told Jobson that mobile phones are a tool and a currency for prisoners, allowing them to potentially commit or participate in further offences from their cells.

"Your conduct undermines the trust of the public. Your conduct was for a continued period of time," he said, telling the 24-year-old she was "infatuated" with Mr Hession. He said custodial sentences for these offences were there to discourage others and protect prison officers from prisoners.

He continued: "You should never have been a prison officer, it is a hard job," explaining how the role involves working with "difficult, dishonest, manipulative, violent people" that also involves showing a degree of compassion and that she was "never the sort of person who was going to be able to stand up to the pressure".

"I have concluded, just, I will not send you to prison," he told her.

For her misconduct offence, Jobson was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years, while Recorder Macadam also handed her a concurrent 13-month jail term, again suspended for two years, for smuggling in the phone.

He also ordered her to attend 15 appointments as part of a mental health treatment. Jobson must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work over the next 12 months.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.