Prisoner had hidden phones in cell 'because of strict lockdown rules'

HMP Norwich, where Matthew Gray was found hanged. Photo : Steve Adams

Prisoner Patrick Smith had phones hidden in his cell at Norwich jail - Credit: Steve Adams

A prisoner was found with hidden phones in his cell as he struggled with strict lockdown rules at Norwich jail, a court heard.

Patrick Smith, 30, was found with a phone in his cell on September 9, last year, before another phone was discovered hidden in a DVD player on January 14, this year, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Patricia May, prosecuting, said that the first phone was found when a prison officer and dog handler made a search of his cell as a result of a tip-off.

She said the second phone was discovered in his cell by a search officer at the prison.

She said that when Smith was arrested he made no comment.

Smith, who appeared over a link from Lowdham Grange Prison, in Nottingham, admitted having prohibited items in jail.

However his barrister Ian Persaud said that both offences happened when there was a strict lockdown at Norwich jail and prisoners did not have access to the usual facilities.

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He said that Smith felt isolated in the prison because of lockdown and was kept in his cell for 23 hours a day.

Mr Persaud said: "He found it extremely hard to cope with that."

While it did not excuse what he had done, he said that Smith had struggled with being confined for so many hours a day.

He said since these offences Norwich prison had made available more devices for prisoners to make calls to family, even though these were of course monitored.

Sentencing him, Judge Anthony Bate accepted the offences took place during lockdown in jail.

"The prison was in lockdown and in early January the lockdown was very heavy." Judge Bate accepted there was very little chance of legitimate communication at that time.

Judge Bate said it did not excuse what he did but accepted the difficulties.

He said these offences were normally dealt with by significant terms of imprisonment but accepted there was powerful mitigation.

Judge Bate imposed six months to be served concurrently with the seven-and-half year sentence Smith was presently serving.

He also ordered the phones to be forfeited.