Judge describes ‘open gang warfare’ at Norwich prison while jailing smuggler

PUBLISHED: 13:15 17 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:15 17 August 2018

A judge has described

A judge has described "open gang warfare" within HMP Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith.

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A judge has described “open gang warfare” in Norwich prison as he jailed a phone smuggler for four months.

Judge Stephen Holt.  Photo : Steve AdamsJudge Stephen Holt. Photo : Steve Adams

Neil Joseph, 49, of Redcroft Road in Middlesex, was filmed entering the toilets at Norwich prison during a visit with an inmate on May 9, before emerging and tucking something into the waistband of his jeans.

Prison staff searched him and found a package containing three sim cards, two mobile phones, two chargers and some tobacco.

Martin Ivory, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said: “When asked about it the defendant accepted having it and said he had been paid £300 for doing it. He took the item in there and didn’t know what was in the package.”

Oliver Haslam , mitigating for Joseph, said he had abided by a previous community order and had two job offers on the table to help him get to Australia to be with his wife and two children.

“Mr Joseph is a man with a very difficult, troubled past,” he said. “He is genuinely now looking to the future.”

He added Joseph had smuggled the package after being threatened by people still in the “drug scene” over old debts.

“Mr Joseph is somebody who has had quite an involvement in drugs and the drug scene,” he said. “He carried that particular cross with him in so far as members of the ongoing drug scene occasionally call on him to demand payment for debts he accrued many years ago.

“Foolishly he gave in. He has realised the peril he put himself in and that there are other options. He need not be looking over his shoulder, he should be looking forward.

“This is a man who was doing everything the courts and the community was asking of him. There is a great many people devastated by this sentence, but they do still support him.”

But Judge Stephen Holt said he would be “failing in my public duty” if he didn’t send Joseph to jail.

“Rather alarmingly you didn’t know what the package was,” he said. “It might have been a firearm, a knife or a weapon.

“Norwich prison is under huge pressure. There is open gang warfare in Norwich prison and one of the items that fuels that pressure - mobile phones - make the running of that prison extremely difficult.”

He added: “Everything else I have seen is good about you. But this is one of those cases where the interest of the defendant is completely at odds with the interest of the public at large.”

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