A HIGH security prison officer who had sex with a convicted murderer in a cleaning cupboard has been jailed for 12 months.

Rachel Louise Welburn, a married mother-of-two, embarked on an 18-month sexual relationship with Daniel Crompton, who was three years into a life sentence for the murder of an 87-year-old Second World War veteran.

The pair met at HMP Frankland, near Durham, where Welburn, from Spennymoor, had worked for 18 years and was a respected member of prison staff.

She was 36 when the affair started and had just returned from maternity leave following the birth of her second child.

Crompton, originally from Bolton, was 27, and had been jailed for severely beating Frank Worsley after breaking into his home while searching for money for drugs.

Mr Worsley died from a stroke less than three weeks after the attack.

The Northern Echo:

HMP Frankland 

During his stay on A-wing at HMP Frankland, Welburn, now 39, had been assigned as Crompton’s designated personal officer.

Robin Patton, prosecuting at Durham Crown Court, said the attraction between him and the officer was “instantaneous”.

He said the pair declared their love for each other, she sent him intimate photographs of herself and letters containing details of her feelings for him.

Last February, she persuaded Crompton to ask for a transfer to Full Sutton Prison to reduce the risk of them being caught, and even visited him there, despite the possibility of being recognised.

But by the summer the relationship cooled and Crompton told an officer he had been having an affair with a female guard in what Mr Patton described as “an act of revenge or spite”.

There was an investigation and when she was challenged, she claimed Crompton had threatened to hurt her husband, a fellow prison officer, had blackmailed her, raped her, and she had to go along with it.

Police wasted time investigating the false claims and she eventually only admitted what she had done at court.

Joanne Kidd, mitigating, said Welburn’s shame and regret were beyond measure.

She had a stressful, high-pressure job, was a diligent and caring colleague and returned to work after maternity leave while suffering from chronic back pain.

Miss Kidd told the judge: “She cannot explain why she behaved in this way.”

The judge said he could not suspend the sentence but told Welburn, of Abbey Green, that the 12 months jail was shorter than it could have been on account of her young children.

Judge Christopher Prince, sentencing for a single charge of misconduct in a public office at Durham Crown Court, which was admitted, said jail was inevitable.

He said it would be “hugely upsetting” for the friends and family of Crompton’s victim to hear of him having a sexual relationship while he was serving a life term.

The judge said: “The public do not expect prisoners, irrespective of the offences they have committed, to be engaging in sexual relationships when they should be serving their sentences.”