Belfast Telegraph

Three more years for prisoner who tried to bring drugs into jail

By George Jackson

An inmate at Magilligan Prison in Co Londonderry has been given three more years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle up to £8,000 of class A and B drugs into the jail following completion of a period of day release.

Thomas Samuel Rodgers (34), from Rathvarna Drive in Lisburn, was caught when a sniffer dog trained to locate hidden drugs froze as it approached him, indicating to its handler the presence of narcotics.

A Public Prosecution Service barrister told Judge Gemma Loughran at the Crown Court in Derry yesterday that on January 16, 2014, Rodgers returned to the prison following the period of day release.

He was searched by warders when he re-entered the jail but that procedure uncovered nothing.

After the dog signalled a problem, a warder used a detector and it buzzed as it was passed over Rodger's buttocks.

Rodgers was placed in a sterile cell and several minutes later he rang and asked staff for a cigarette.

When warders entered the cell they found 15 class A fentanyl patches, 90 grams of cannabis resin and just over three grams of herbal cannabis, along with three other drugs substances which had been mixed together.

The drugs were rolled up inside toilet paper and then rolled up into a T-shirt.

The prosecution barrister said the total value ranged from £4,680 to £8,310, because of the increased currency value of drugs inside a prison.

After he was arrested Rodgers told police officers that he had been pressured into smuggling the drugs by others.

The barrister said that Rodgers, who had 91 previous criminal convictions, had been in custody since January 2014 on separate matters.

A defence solicitor told the court that while Rodgers believed he knew the packages contained drugs, he was not aware of the types involved.

"He was under pressure from others whom he owed money to and who told him that if did not do it, when he returned to the prison he would receive a beating inside," the solicitor said.

Judge Loughran said because of the nature of the offences a deterrent sentence had to be imposed.

She said drugs had their own currency in a jail environment and their presence impacted on prison discipline.

"The availability of illegal drugs in a prison is deplorable and it is too prevalent and it requires the imposition of a deterrent custodial sentence," she said.

Rodgers will start serving his sentence when he completes his current jail term.

Belfast Telegraph


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