A MAN caught smuggling drugs into prison using a crisp packet has been spared jail.

Lee Park, of Station Road in Little Hoole, near preston, was given a suspended sentence after admitting taking prohibited items into the Wrexham prison.

He admitted to the charges put before him on January 13 and was brought before the court for sentence today, Tuesday January 26.

Prosecutor, Mr Andrew Green, told the court the 36-year-old was visiting HMP Berwyn on Wrexham Industrial Estate on November 14, 2019.

Police were called to the prison after Park was spotted on CCTV ‘acting suspiciously’, according to prison officers, as he was not sure who he was there to visit when asked.

The court heard how Park’s movement about the prison was monitored thereafter when he visited a male prisoner.

Sitting opposite the prisoner, who was not named in court, the men spent ‘about ten minutes’ looking around the room before an exchange was attempted.

The prosecution says that Park went to put his hands down his jogging bottoms and pulled an item out of his crotch area before placing it into a packet of crisps he had been eating. This was slid along the table which is when suspicious prison officers decided to intervene.

Park was detained and, upon searching, the court was told how the bag contained a plastic egg. This was x-rayed and found to contain a quantity of tablets. A knotted plastic pouch contained 40g of pregabalin – a Class C substance – and 16 whole Xanax tablets in a self-package.

The dad-of-two was arrested and, in interview, told police he had been told by someone else to take the drugs into the prison. He refused to identity the person but told officers he owed them money and did this to get rid of the outstanding debt.

The defence, Mr Phillips, argued that Park had made full admissions of guilt when questioned about his actions – telling police in detail how the debt he was trying to wipe was over a damaged car.

He acknowledged that this type of offence is ‘always risky’ and said that risk is heightened by the more modern facility at HMP Berwyn with multiple cameras watching visitors.

Mr Phillips said a significant amount of time has passed since the offence and Park had subsequently been trying to ‘get his life in order’ – trying to start up his own business and also securing his own accommodation just before Christmas.

He also pleaded with the judge to consider how Park felt ‘desperate’ enough to go through with this act rather than feel they could go to the police. He asked if the judge would therefore consider a community-based punishment for Park.

His honour judge David Hale told Park he was willing to suspend the six-month sentence for two years.

He said: “Prisons are a very difficult place to manage and one of the things that causes great problems for the prison service is drugs.

“A great deal of time, money and care is taken to avoid any drugs going into prison because they are a commodity and a great deal of ingenuity is still used by some people to get them into prison.

“It is a serious aggravating feature when items are taken into prisons. It is worse in your case because you didn’t know the chap. You had no pressures of emotion, or family or a relationship. You simply went there to pay off a debt.”

In the eyes of the law, Park played a ’significant role’ in supplying drugs into the prison setting – despite claims he was working on behalf of someone else.

He acknowledged that Park had been waiting through no fault of his own since late 2019 for a ‘simple sentence’ to be passed and has started getting his life in order with the charges hanging over his head.

He warned: “Had you been here promptly, then you’d have gone straight to prison. No question.”

Park was ordered to complete a rehabilitation activity of 20 days.