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Prison officer spared jail after becoming ‘infatuated’ with inmate

Libby Shankland admitted kissing convicted drug dealer Adnan Ali and exchanging nearly 5,000 text messages.

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Libby Shankland, left, leaving court with a relative (Adam Hale/PA)

Libby Shankland, left, leaving court with a relative (Adam Hale/PA)

Libby Shankland, left, leaving court with a relative (Adam Hale/PA)

A prison officer has been given a suspended sentence after striking up a romance with an inmate she became “infatuated” with.

Libby Shankland, 24, exchanged 14,000 phone calls and almost 5,000 text messages over four months with convicted drug dealer Adnan Ali, who used an illicit mobile phone while in jail.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Shankland’s relationship with Ali, 23, was discovered when concerns were raised about G4S staff at HM Parc Prison in Bridgend, South Wales, in December last year.

Prosecutor David Pinnell said Shankland, who worked on the B3 wing holding prisoners aged 18-25 where there had been “general unrest”, was interviewed by a senior officer when she became upset and broke into floods of tears.

The texts were of a flirtatious nature, and at one point referred to kisses having taken place between her and Mr Ali while she was at workDavid Pinnell, prosecutor

She admitted being in a relationship with Ali, who was serving a five-and-a-half year sentence for supplying class A drugs, and provided “intelligence” on other inmates before allowing officers to take her mobile phone.

But before the phone could be passed to another colleague ahead of it being examined, it rang “four to five” times, displaying Ali’s name and love heart symbols as the caller ID.

Mr Pinnell said: “She immediately offered her resignation on December 2 and it was accepted.”

Police analysed Shankland’s mobile and found a total of 4,778 text messages had been exchanged between herself and a phone ID matching Ali’s, with more than 2,000 messages sent in each direction.

Mr Pinnell said: “The texts were of a flirtatious nature, and at one point referred to kisses having taken place between her and Mr Ali while she was at work.

“Further analysis showed a total of just over 8,000 connections to Mr Ali’s phone and just under 6,000 from Mr Ali in the other direction to hers.”

Mr Pinnell said texts confirmed they considered themselves “boyfriend and girlfriend”, and talk turned to marriage and the possibility of having children together.

He added: “It’s clear from the texts she was completely infatuated with him.”

This was a serious breach of duty as mobile phones in prison, especially with someone in there for drug-dealing, is prohibited for very good reason indeedJudge Richard Twomlow

Mr Pinnell said one of the phone calls lasted for a total of seven hours, while Shankland was off duty, with 48 calls lasting between one and two hours.

Shankland, who had worked as a prisoner officer for 12 months, told police she knew Ali had use of an illicit phone while he was in prison, and said it was he who had started contacting her via Snapchat after getting her number.

She also said they would contact each other “all the time” when she was off duty, admitting she knew he was taking drugs when she was not there, and feeling “conflicted” after “falling in love” despite receiving training against corruption by prisoners.

Shankland later pleaded guilty to misconduct in judicial or public office.

Andrew Davies, defending, said Shankland’s “remorse and shame is genuine”.

He described her as a “hard working” and “talented lady” who had previously moved to London after university, where the breakdown of a relationship had led to her being diagnosed with depression and becoming “vulnerable”.

Mr Davies said: “She was clearly struggling. And in the prosecution case, its first witness describes her as lacking confidence and being the weak link.”

He added: “She was vulnerable and she was taken advantage of.”

Should we suspect wrongdoing, we will always share intelligence with the police and other agenciesIan Coles, HMP Parc

Judge Richard Twomlow said: “This was a serious breach of duty as mobile phones in prison, especially with someone in there for drug-dealing, is prohibited for very good reason indeed.”

He added: “Prison officers have to do a very difficult and challenging job. It seems to me you were really unsuited for that job.”

The judge admitted one of the factors in deciding not to send Shankland to prison was the “current situation in the country with the pandemic and how it affects those in prison”.

Shankland, from North Cornelly, Bridgend, was sentenced to 12 months in custody suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

Deputy director of HMP Parc Ian Coles said: “We expect the highest standards of conduct from our team and we will not tolerate behaviour that undermines the good work of our colleagues.

“Should we suspect wrongdoing, we will always share intelligence with the police and other agencies.

“I’d like to thank my team and South Wales Police for their exemplary work.”

PA