Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Cocaine-snorting prison officer ‘smuggled to keep his wife’

A cocaine-snorting prison officer who saved his marriage by giving in to blackmail threats and smuggled “unauthorised packages” into Maghaberry jail faces the prospect of being jailed himself next week.

Craigavon Crown Court heard that 46-year-old Darrall Scott, a father-of-two from Winona Lodge in Donaghcloney, Co Down, has since been forgiven by his wife for having a six-month affair with a prisoner's wife.

Prosecutor Peter Sefton said another inmate discovered the affair and effectively “blackmailed” Scott, a former member of the Royal Navy, into smuggling three packages into the prison over a five-month period up to May 2009.

Scott, a prison officer for 18 years, claimed he did not know what was in the three packages, but suspected they contained drugs.

He pleaded guilty to three separate charges of misconduct in public office by smuggling the packages, and one charge of possession of cocaine for his own use.

Defence QC James Gallagher described Scott as a having been rendered vulnerable because he wanted to save his marriage.

Although forgiven by his wife, Scott had to retire from the Prison Service after initially being suspended.

A psychologist, the lawyer said, found that the offences occurred because of Scott's “vulnerability”, and he had not gained financially from the smuggling.

Mr Gallagher said while he would secure his pension rights, Scott had still paid an immense financial penalty for his wrongdoing, and that any jail sentence would be particularly difficult and particularly punitive.

Judge Desmond Marrinan said it was an unusual case, if not unique, as the court does not know what was smuggled into the jail. While there may be “strong suspicions” the packages did contain drugs, they could well have contained mobile phones or other contraband, he said.

He added that all that can really be said about the packages is that they were “unauthorised and that could cover a multitude of sins”, and while there were suspicions, suspicions were not the truth and the court had to be careful not to make assumptions that they did indeed contain drugs.

Judge Marrinan told Scott he would receive credit for his admissions to police and pleading guilty to the charges, but it was a difficult case he wished to reflect on before passing sentence next Thursday.

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