A WOMAN tried to smuggle a package of drugs into prison to pass on to her brother who was on trial for murder at the time, a court heard.

But observant officers monitoring the visits area of Durham Prison saw Joanne Watson remove an item from her pocket and hand it to her brother, Paul, who then placed it into his shoe.

Durham Crown Court was told the purple glove was recovered and contained clear film packaging, which, in turn, contained small amounts of the class B ‘zombie’ substance, spice, and the class C drugs buprenorphine and oxymetholone.

Ian Mullarkey, prosecuting, said an officer put the value of the drugs at £3,000, although this figure was doubted by the judge, due to the small amounts involved.

Joanne Watson was taken to Durham City Police Station where she admitted taking the drugs package into the prison, “to give her brother a change”, having wrapped them in cling film.

Mr Mullarkey said she told police she had not been asked to take the drugs into the prison on the visit.

Days after her visit, on July 28 last year, her 30-year-old brother, was found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court of the joint murder of Michael Price, 36, in Chester-le-Street, in January last year, and was given a life sentence for which he must serve a minimum of 17 years behind bars.

Watson, 33, of Ramsey Street, Chester-le-Street, admitted three counts of taking a prohibited list A article into prison, one charge for each of the three substances.

A probation report read to the court said she had a difficult upbringing during which she endured family tragedies, for which she has never received counselling.

The court heard since the death of her mother she has been the main carer for another brother who has learning difficulties.

Although the offences cross the custody threshold, defence counsel, Graeme Cook, said there was case law suggesting a suspended sentence could be imposed.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said drugs in custodial environments take on their own value, but also bring problems for prison authorities.

He told Watson: “I could lock you up now and you would serve four months.

“But, life has thrown a lot at you, and while I’m sure you would get through it, it seems to me, in the circumstances of your life you can do something more productive.”

He imposed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which she will be subject to probation supervision, to include 25 rehabilitation activity days, while she must also perform 100 hours’ unpaid work.