Jailed: Prison officer who used fruit juice cartons to smuggle in drugs worth £215,000

Members of the Liverpool Crown Court heard that officers found the stash when they searched his bag (Merseyside Police/PA)

A prison officer who was found smuggling crack cocaine, heroin and steroid tablets in fruit juice cartons has been jailed for nine years.

Paul Heap, 43, was discovered carrying a bag containing two fruit juice cartons packed with drugs as he went into HMP Altcourse in Liverpool while on sick leave on 28 June last year.

Officers found crack cocaine, heroin, cannabis and more than 2,000 steroid tablets, a mobile phone, charger and two sim cards in his rucksack.

Some of the haul that the officers found (Merseyside Police/PA)

Police said the drugs had an estimated value of more than £215,000.

Judge David Aubrey QC said Heap had “cast a shadow” on his colleagues after 14 years working as a prison officer.

He said: “You had in effect changed sides. You had changed to the other, the dark side, having become involved in that evil trade of the supply of drugs within and to a prison, your prison.

“You were therby corrupting and corroding the very environment and system that you were supposed to be safeguarding. Your offending was a grave breach of trust.”

Paul Heap had been working at HMP Altcourse for 14 years. (Merseyside Police/PA Wire)

Sentencing the father-of-two, he said: “Your head is rightly bowed in shame and by your corrupt dealings you have also brought shame upon your family.”

The court heard that a search of Heap’s car and house, in Hartley’s Village, Aintree, revealed more than £9,000 of cash which he initially claimed was savings.

He pleaded guilty to seven charges of possessing drugs with intent to supply, three counts of conveying a prohibited article and one charge of possessing cash which was criminal property.

Paul Heap had been going under financial difficulties which lead him to agree to a suggestion by an inmate to supply drugs (Merseyside Police/PA)

Andrew McInnes, defending, said a psychiatric report showed Heap was suffering a “depressive episode” and had issues for many years after witnessing a prison suicide.

He also said he had financial pressures, including paying the mortgage for the home where he lived with his parents.

A financial investigation showed he had relied on credit cards and long and short-term loans to fund his lifestyle until December 2016.

Mr McInnes said: “It seems, unfortunately, the pressures of the job and pressures financially have led this defendant to accept a suggestion to become involved in this enterprise.”

READ MORE ON YAHOO NEWS UK:

Four out of five adults at risk of early death because their ‘heart age’ is too high
Misogyny could be made a hate crime as MPs prepare for historic vote

2.6 million ‘have changed their minds about supporting Brexit’
Japan typhoon: Hundreds of cars left wrecked as worst storm in 25 years kills 10
Neglected cat covered in dreadlocked fur undergoes miracle transformation

In an interview with police, Heap said he had been put under pressure, although he had not been threatened directly, by a prisoner who he refused to name.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Mossop, head of the Titan prison corruption unit, said: “This sentence is a message to those prison staff who are considering taking contraband into prison.

“Titan continues to set dismantling prison corruption as a priority and with staff dedicated to investigating prison staff suspected of being involved in the supply of drugs and contraband within prisons, if they are convicted they will be looking at similar lengths of sentence.”