A PRISON officer who “ruined” his life by perverting the course of justice has escaped jail.

John McGee, 51, asked a prison governor to have “a quiet word” with another guard who had given evidence at a series of abuse trials against fellow officers.

McGee sent the email in support of his father, who was jailed for his part in the mistreatment of young inmates at Medomsley Detention Centre in the 1970s.

McGee, said to have hero-worshipped his father – who is also called John, lost his job at the maximum security Frankland Prison where he had worked for 24 years after he was convicted following a trial in February.

Judge James Adkin suspended a nine-month jail sentence for two years, imposed a 7pm to 7am curfew and ordered him to carry out 20 days of rehabilitation activity.

The court heard the defendant, now working as a delivery driver, was not considered a risk of committing similar offences.

Judge Adkin, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court, said: “I accept the argument that you were under considerable stress.

“You did something stupid, entirely out of character, and as a result you ruined your life.”

The judge said McGee was a man of exemplary character.

Robin Patton, defending, said McGee was very close to his father and described the email he sent to Durham Prison’s number one governor as “a cry for help” when he was in a “state of despair” following his elderly father’s conviction.

McGee, from Burnopfield, County Durham, had sent an email to Phil Husband in January 2019 after his father was convicted at Teesside Crown Court.

A Durham Prison officer had given background evidence at two trials, including his father’s, and was due to go in the witness box at a third trial of former Medomsley officers accused of abusing inmates.

McGee wrote that Mr Cockburn had been “sticking the boot in” by giving evidence, adding: “If I had my way he would be dealt with if you know what I mean.”

The email continued: “Now it’s not for me to say anything Phil, but a quiet word in his ear would be a good idea.”

McGee wrote that his father had been cleared of 12 counts by the jury but convicted of misconduct, describing that verdict as “bloody rubbish”.

Deborah Smithies, prosecuting, said Mr Cockburn had felt a “sense of paranoia” about the email as he had been in a few near misses when cycling to work.