Woman tried to smuggle drugs into jail in trousers

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

Erica Howard was caught trying to smuggle drugs into Norwich jail - Credit: Steve Adams

A woman was caught trying to smuggle drugs into jail hidden down her trousers.

Erica Howard, 49, was spotted acting suspiciously during a visit at Norwich prison and when searched she was found to have hidden 17 wraps of cocaine down her trousers, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Benedict Peers, prosecuting, said that Howard was seen to repeatedly put her hand down her trousers during visiting time.

"She was putting her hand down her trousers and appeared to have something in her hand," he said.

He said it was also noted that she kept turning away from prison officers.

When she was searched and the drugs were found he said Howard told them she thought it was just some tobacco she had been carrying.

Howard of Dogwood Road, Norwich, admitted conveying an article into prison on June 4, 2019.

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The court heard she had 55 previous convictions, mainly for dishonesty.

John Morgans, for Howard, said she understood the seriousness of the charge she faced. "She is under no illusions," he said.

He said the case had taken some time to come to court and said that in that period Howard had taken steps not to re-offend. He said she had sought support and help and now had a network to help her.

"She has kept out of trouble since then. She is determined to change in the future," he said.

He said if she was given the chance of a suspended sentence she would grab it with both hands.

Recorder Simon Taylor QC imposed a two year jail sentence suspended for 18 months.

He accepted there had been a degree of coercion for her to bring drugs into prison.

Recorder Taylor said that normally anyone who brought drugs into prison would face immediate custody because of the harm it does.

He said: "It undermines the rule of law in prison and leads to bullying and intimidation in prison."

However he said he had decided to take an exceptional course in her case, partly because of the long delay in her case coming to court.

He also ordered her to take part in a six month drug rehabilitation scheme.

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