A MAN recruited to smuggle a selection of drugs into a woman’s prison to pass on while visiting a child killer is now behind bars himself.

Stephen Taylor, a 58-year-old man of previous good character, other than a motoring conviction, was given a 16-month sentence by Judge Simon Hickey, who said it may send a message and deter others from trying to take contraband into custodial establishments.

Durham Crown Court heard that Taylor was visiting inmate Vicki Burke, at Low Newton Women’s Prison, on the outskirts of the city, earlier this year.

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Burke, 26, is serving an eight-year sentence, imposed at Newcastle Crown Court in December, 2015, for causing or allowing the death of her 16-week-old daughter at her home in the city.

Tequiilah Burke died in hospital from head injuries, in December 2013.

Vicki Burke’s partner at the time, Paul Nicholson, now 22, was also jailed for eight years after being convicted of the same charge.

Elizabeth Muir, prosecuting, said a prison officer became suspicious as Taylor embraced Burke at the end of the visit, on March 7.

The officer quickly crossed the communal visits area, after seeing their hands meet.

Miss Muir said two small cling film wraps were found in Burke’s right hand.

They were found to contain 0.794g of crack cocaine, ten buprenorphine tablets , plus some in crushed form, and 32 diazepam tablets.

Nothing suspicious was found on Taylor, but a further wrap containing drugs was discovered in his car parked outside.

He was arrested and admitted passing the packages to Burke, knowing they contained some form of drug.

Taylor told police someone had called him and asked him to take the drugs into Low Newton for Burke, a few days before the visit.

He said he believed it was to be a “one-off”, as he had previously visited the inmate, a family friend for several years, about ten times.

Taylor said Burke knew he would be taking the package into the prison on the visit that day.

Taylor, of Westgarth, Newcastle, admitted three counts of taking a prohibited item into a prison.

Richard Bloomfield, mitigating, described the defendant as, “exactly the sort of person who is targeted to carry out this type of offence.”

He told the court: “He’s of older years and effectively of previous good character, but someone who has been manipulated, and, it could be argued, he was under some level of duress.

“On their own, these wouldn’t be considered large amounts of drugs, but, in a prison environment, they have a much higher value.”

Jailing him, Judge Hickey told Taylor: “The public must understand, conveying drugs into prison must attract a custodial sentence, as a deterrent to others.

“They cause a great deal of volatility and damage in prisons, and inmates taking them may then behave in an unpredictable way, potentially putting the good order of the prison, other inmates and staff, at risk.”

The judge also ordered forfeiture and destruction of the drugs, said to be worth £2,120 in prison values.