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Former prison officer made more than 3,500 illegal calls to prisoners
11:30am Tuesday 24th July 2012 in Local
TWO female prison officers have been jailed after admitting they had inappropriate relationships with prisoners at HMP Hewell in Redditch.
Jodie Pugh, 30, and 25-year-old Danielle Ofkants from Oakenshaw in Redditch, formed the relationships as part of their jobs.
More than 3,500 calls and texts passed between Pugh and five prisoners during the last 10 months she worked at the Tardebigge prison.
She had close relationships with three inmates, including a convicted murderer, and supplied one with a mobile, Worcester Crown Court heard.
She also carried a prisoner's letter out of the jail which, police believed, contained references to firearms and a terrorist squad.
Ofkants, whose parents and brother are all serving prison officers, was involved in a total of 262 calls with five prisoners, some convicted of manslaughter and robbery.
One prisoner even offered to buy her a plasma TV.
The pair appeared before Worcester Crown Court having both previously admitted wilful misconduct in a public office.
Pugh was sent to jail for two and a half years while Judge Robert Juckes QC conceded that Ofkants' offence was further down the scale and jailed her for 12 months.
The judge said: "These are crimes that strike at the heart of the prison security system in this country.
“Order is undermined and all prison officers come under suspicion."
The offences took place between November, 2010 and September last year.
An investigation began after the prison authorities reported their suspicions about the officers' conduct to the police.
Inquiries then took place over an 18-month period and involved detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit.
Following sentencing Detective Inspector Gerry Smith of West Mercia Police said: "The prison authorities had their suspicions about the officers' conduct before they called us in and they worked very closely with us during what was a very full and thorough investigation.
"The corrupt activities Pugh and Ofkants were engaged in amounted to a serious abuse of the public's trust and it also posed a significant threat to prison discipline.
"People in positions of trust who contemplate such behaviour can expect the courts to come down on them hard.”
Stephanie Roberts-Bibby, governor of HMP Hewell, said: "We remain committed to identifying and eradicating all forms of staff wrongdoing.
“Where staff develop an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner they put themselves and their colleagues at risk, potentially undermining the safety of the prison.
"The sentence received by Pugh and Ofkants reflects the seriousness of the offence."