Home » Eight people jailed for more than eight years for smuggling contraband into HMP Winchester
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Eight people jailed for more than eight years for smuggling contraband into HMP Winchester

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Eight people have been jailed for a total of more than eight years following an investigation by officers from our Serious and Organised Crime Unit

The investigation centred around a conspiracy to smuggle contraband into HMP Winchester that is believed to have started early in 2015.

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The following people were sentenced by the judge today (16 November) at Southampton Crown Court after previously entering guilty pleas to charges brought as part of this investigation:

21 year-old Rhonda Pack of Greenway Road in Gosport pleaded guilty to: conspiracy to convey mobile telephones into prison, and conspiracy to convey a list ‘A’ banned item into prison (drugs conspiracy). She was sentenced to a total of eight months in prison for both offences.
28 year-old Christopher Byles of Minnitt Road, Gosport pleaded guilty to: conspiracy to convey mobile telephones into prison and conspiracy to convey a list ‘A’ banned item into prison (drugs conspiracy) on 14 September. Today he was sentenced to a total of eight months in prison for both offences.
The following people were previously sentenced on 14 September at the same court after previously entering guilty pleas to charges brought as part of this investigation:

30 year-old Danielle Carr of Hawkhill in Dibden admitted conspiracy to bring a list ‘A’ banned item into prison (drugs conspiracy) on 18 July. She had previously admitted conspiracy to convey mobile telephones into prison, and entering into an arrangement to facilitate the acquisition of criminal property. Danielle Carr was sentenced to a total of twelve months in prison for all three offences.
24 year-old Rebecca Vaughan of Primrose Close in Chandlers Ford pleaded guilty to: conspiracy to convey mobile telephones into prison, entering into an arrangement to facilitate the acquisition of criminal property, and possession of criminal property. She was sentenced to a total of eight months in prison for all three offences.
30 year-old Sophie Lennards of Faircross Close in Holbury pleaded guilty to: conspiracy to convey mobile telephones into prison and conspiracy to convey a list ‘A’ banned item into prison (drugs conspiracy). She was sentenced to a total of fifteen months in prison for all three offences..
26 year-old Connie Rooke of Park Mews in Park Gate pleaded guilty to entering into an arrangement to facilitate the acquisition of criminal property. She was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years for the offence.
25 year-old Ben Carr formerly residing at HMP Winchester pleaded guilty to: conspiracy to convey mobile telephones into prison and conspiracy to convey a list ‘A’ banned item into prison (drugs conspiracy). He has been sentenced to a total of three years in prison for both offences.
28 year-old Suritai Phanthiva formerly residing at HMP Winchester pleaded guilty to conspiracy to convey a list ‘A’ banned item into prison (drugs conspiracy) and was sentenced to three years in prison for the offence. Phanthiva had previously admitted conspiracy to convey mobile telephones into prison. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison at a previous hearing for that offence.
Following the sentencing The Governor of HMP Winchester, Stephanie Robert-Bibby said “A case such as this brings to light the hard work of prison staff and police officers to uncover the full extent of criminal conspiracies attempting to smuggle contraband items into and out of prison premises. This result sends a clear message that such activity will be brought to light and punished. I’d like to thank my staff and the investigating officers for building a clear picture of the activities that prisoners and members of the public were undertaking for a short period at HMP Winchester.”

Senior investigating officer DCI Ellie Hurd added: “Our investigation was launched after intelligence was received from HMP Winchester that a mobile phone had been recovered from Ben Carr and Suritai Phanthiva’s cell in April 2015. Detailed phone enquiries including recovering deleted text messages and analysing cell site data revealed Rebecca Vaughan was conspiring with Rhonda Pack, Danielle Carr, Christopher Byles, and Connie Rooke to smuggle mobile phones into the prison. Further enquiries uncovered text messages between Sophie Lennards and Ben Carr. These conversations referred to items including mobile phones, the psychoactive substance ‘Spice’, cannabis, and steroids being smuggled into HMP Winchester on behalf of Ben Carr with assistance from Danielle Carr and Sophie Lennards. Further enquiries revealed the extent of this conspiracy with other people employed to smuggle packages into the prison premises which would then subsequently be distributed by Phanthiva, Carr and their associates.

“The misuse of drugs and other psychoactive substances in a prison has widespread consequences. This includes the health and safety of individual prisoners, the result of associated violence on staff. and potential impact on prisoners’ friends and families in the local community.

“Research has shown that prisoners believe the use of depressants can counter the boredom and stress of prison life. It’s important to note that during the lifetime of this investigation the New Psychoactive Substances Act has been introduced, but even when these synthetic substances were technically legal they were still banned on prison premises. Their popularity for people trying to smuggle them onto prison premises has always revolved around the potential mark-up value and therefore profit, especially before the new legislation was introduced and they were widely available in shops across the UK. These profits can then go on to be used to fund criminal activity inside the prison which dramatically impacts on rehabilitation programmes. In some cases where debts are owed these can lead to violence inside the prison or threats made to individuals in the local community, which can lead to those people resorting to criminality if this isn’t reported to us. The violence that’s linked to any covert supply of drugs in prisons has led to improved strategies being adopted to tackle substance misuse, and in the most extreme cases; serious injury, illness, or deaths in custody. The potential health implications of psychoactive substances and drugs are also very serious, and it seems that in some cases prisoners have been coerced into testing new substances or batches, which can be extremely dangerous.

“These sentences reflect the serious nature of these offences. It has taken two years for our investigation to establish the scope of this conspiracy and secure successful convictions. This has been a complex case to build due to the number of people involved and the amount of evidence we had to compile, and I would like to thank the team involved and recognise the tenacity of the officer who has been leading this investigation. They have all worked tirelessly to bring these eight people to justice”.

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