AN inmate’s boast about a successful drug trade he and a cell-mate ran from behind bars proved their downfall, a court heard.

Nathan Aldus and Daniel McCardle plotted to smuggle drugs and mobile phones into Durham Prison, with associates on the outside.

They conspired to bring thousands of pounds worth of drugs, including the so-called ‘zombie’ substance, Spice, into the prison packed inside the holed out sole of a visitor's training shoes.

During the visit the inmate and visitor would swap shoes under the table, enabling the consignment to bypass prison security checks.

Durham Crown Court heard the conspiracy was discovered when Aldus used a smuggled mobile phone to post photographs taken in his cell on Facebook, complete with the caption: “HMP Durham’s main men that roll with real Rolexs and iphones #smashingit.”

A prison officer spotted the message and the cell shared by Aldus and McCardle was searched, leading to the discovery of mobile phones, chargers and drugs.

Aldus, 30, formerly of South Shields, admitted two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison and possession of drugs with intent to supply.

He received a 39-month prison sentence.

McCardle, also 30, formerly of Sunderland, pleaded guilty to possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply and was sentenced to six months.

He is already serving sentences of ten years and a life sentence with a minimum custodial term of three years and ten months, both for wounding offences.

Aldus’ then girlfriend Kelly Raper, now known as Grace Elrick, 39, also from South Shields, admitted two counts of conspiracy to convey prohibited articles into prison.

Having spent four nights in custody in Low Newton Prison, Durham, after an adjourned court hearing on Thursday, she was sentenced to four months, suspended for two years.

Aldus’ mother Iris, 47, of Grantham, in Lincolnshire, was given a two-year community order after previously admitting topping up sim cards to be used in prison, while a 17-year-old boy, only aged 14 and 15 at the time, who was recruited by Raper to carry the drugs in his trainers, was given a two-year conditional discharge.

Detectives investigating the case estimate the total value of drugs and mobile phones to be worth about £30,000 to those involved.

Detective Constable Bri Carter, of the North-East Regional Specialist Operations Unit, who led the investigation, said: “Spice is a powerful and dangerous drug which causes serious problems in our prisons and significant misery on our streets.

“Nathan Aldus hoped to profit from that misery and couldn’t resist boasting about it on social media.

“He is now facing a lengthy prison sentence and will have plenty of time behind bars to regret his remarks.

“Our wider message to anyone considering this type of criminal activity is that we will not tolerate this behaviour.

“We will gather the evidence, take you to court and you can expect a lengthy prison sentence.”

The offences took place between October 2017 and January 2018.