A WOMAN has admitted agreeing to act as an unwilling “drugs mule” to attempt to secrete illicit substances into a prison, on a visit.

But Joanne Richardson claims she was a reluctant participant in the mission to sneak a drugs package into Durham Prison, acting under pressure from others.

Appearing at a plea hearing at Durham Crown Court, the 47-year-old defendant, of East Vines, in Sunderland’s East End, admitted conveying a prohibited article into, or out of a prison.

It relates to a quantity of class A, B and C drugs taken into HMP Durham, on April 7, last year.

Judge Ray Singh noted that the defence case is that the guilty plea was made on the basis that she was acting, “just short of duress”.

Martin Towers, prosecuting, said the Crown would like seven days to consider whether it accepts that basis.

Judge Singh told Richardson: “You have pleaded guilty to these matters, but I can’t deal your case further, today.

“You have indicated how you committed the offences, that pressure you say you were put under.

“It if turns out that that was correct then you can be sentenced on that basis.

“That’s what the Crown need to investigate.”

The judge agreed to allow until Tuesday July 14 for the Crown to give their views on the basis of plea.

He granted Richardson bail, in the meantime.