A lesbian prison officer has been jailed after she was caught kissing and fondling a convicted inmate.
A pretty prison officer has been jailed for six months after having an affair with an inmate behind bars.
The lesbian officer identified as Melissa Priestley, 33, had been seen kissing and fondling convicted robber Leonie Kinnish at HMP Low Newton in Durham. She also gave her special privileges, which angered other inmates.
According to reports, the relationship began in October last year and was discovered the following month, when the authorities saw the couple kissing.
Prosecutor Paul Reid told Durham Crown Court that after rumours first started circulating about the two, Kinnish’s cell was searched – revealing love letters sent to her from the prison guard.
‘It would appear from the content of the letters that the affection was reciprocated,’ Reid told the court.
Phone messages between Priestley’s and another prison officer corroborated that she was having an affair. However, Kinnish refused to help with the inquiry, but other prisoners reported seeing ‘the defendant and the prisoner kissing and fondling each other’.
Defending, Ros Scott Bell said these were ‘trinkets of the heart’ and that nothing illegal was handed over.
‘This is a case where her heart was put before her judgement,’ Bell told the court, adding that nothing more sexual than kissing had taken place.
Once the affair was discovered Kinnish was transferred to Styal Prison in Manchester, and Priestley was suspended from her job after almost a decade’s service.
Judge Simon Hickley gave Priestley credit for her guilty plea to misconduct in public office, her ‘impeccable character’ up until her conviction, and her hard work.
But he said he could not suspend her sentence, adding: ‘It’s just too serious.’ She will now spend six months in prison.