A PRISON officer is facing a jail sentence for having an improper relationship with an inmate – and putting credit on a mobile phone he could use from behind bars.

Convicted drugs baron David Turnbull stayed in contact with guard Rebecca King, 32, with a handset which had been smuggled into Holme House Prison in Stockton.

Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday that the single mother, from Selby, North Yorkshire, “topped-up” the phone so she could communicate with Turnbull in jail.

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The 42-year-old is serving a sentence of almost nine years for his part in a large-scale drugs ring which was based on Teesside and had links to Nottingham and London.

The pair met when Turnbull was being held – and she was working – at HMP Wealstun, near Wetherby, and Everthorpe, near Market Weighton, West Yorkshire.

Defence lawyer Christopher Knox told the court that the “intimate” relationship did not start until Turnbull was released – but continued after his later drugs arrest.

The couple remained in contact while Turnbull was held on remand and after he was jailed for eight years and ten months for the cocaine, heroin and cannabis conspiracy.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton told King she faced “an inevitable” prison sentence after she admitted misconduct in a public office and money laundering offences yesterday.

The judge was told that the charges relate to a period between January 2008 and September this year when a “covert” mobile phone was found by prison authorities.

Prosecutor Simon Myers said the phone – banned inside jails – was used by a number of inmates and King's contact with it is “one of the most serious aspects” of the case.

“The Crown will assert that not only did she know about the covert telephone, but she actually paid for top-ups which is a very serious matter, indeed,” said Mr Myers.

King was given bail by the judge until her next appearance in the new year, when a pre-sentence report by probation officials will detail the offences and her background.

King admitted concealing criminal property – almost £10,000 of Turnbull's money – knowing or believing it constituted his benefit from criminal conduct last October.

She also pleaded guilty to three charges of misconduct in a public office by having an intimate relationship with Turnbull while she worked as a senior prison officer.

Two of the counts relate to the phone – failing to report to the authorities that it existed and by maintaining contact with her lover in breach of jail regulations.

King denied a further misconduct charge by having the relationship while they were at the same jail, and two other money laundering counts. The pleas were accepted.