Belfast Telegraph

Prison officer who was blackmailed by inmate is jailed

A cocaine-snorting prison officer who gave into blackmail threats and smuggled unauthorised packages into Maghaberry in a bid to save his marriage has been jailed for nine months.

Craigavon Crown Court Judge Desmond Marrinan told 46-year-old Darrall Scott, a father-of-two from Winona Lodge, Donaghcloney, Co Down, that his “breach of trust” was so serious he had to be jailed to deter others.

Scott, a prison officer for 18 years, had admitted three separate charges of misconduct in public office by smuggling three packages into his jail between December 2008 and the following May, and one charge of possession of cocaine for his own use.

Jailing him, Judge Marrinan, sitting in Lisburn Court, said the former Royal Navy sailor’s “sad saga” began with his illicit affair with a prisoner's wife, which “not entirely surprising” soon became known. Among those who found out was a prisoner who, added the judge, “frankly, threatened you with exposure ... if you did not do him a favour”.

“It seems to me that because of your foolishness of being in an affair with a prisoner's wife you allowed very significant pressure to be placed on you by an unscrupulous man who threatened to expose you unless you did exactly what he wanted,” said Judge Marrinan.

Scott, he said, began to smuggle in palm-sized packs into the jail, and while he suspected they may be drugs, did not know exactly what he was transporting.

This, said the judge, displayed a “reckless state of mind” on Scott's part as he was prepared to smuggle anything into the jail without knowing what it was, and regardless of how serious the consequences might have been.

Judge Marrinan added it would be wrong of him to assume the contraband was drugs and that Scott, as in any case, was entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

He said there were a number of mitigating factors, including Scott's genuine remorse and realisation of the harm and trouble he had caused to not only his family, but his colleagues.

However, the judge added Scott’s wrongdoing demanded a period of custody, and despite an earlier plea from his lawyer James Gallagher QC, the sentence could not be suspended.

Scott, who has been forgiven by his wife for having a six-month affair with the prisoner's wife, will be on licensed supervision for a further nine months following his release.

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