AN inmate returned to open prison after day release with a stash of secreted drugs, a court was told.

Robert Hutchinson took the cocktail of class C substances into HMP Kirklevington Grange, at Yarm, intending to keep most for personal use, but to sell some to other inmates at the inflated prices drugs fetch in the prison environment.

Prison officers, who heard Hutchinson was bringing drugs into the prison on an almost daily basis, intercepted him on September 7, 2020, and took him to HMP Durham which has a body scanner.

Matthew Hopkins, prosecuting, told Durham Crown Court that hearing he was to be scanned, Hutchinson revealed he had steroids and other “stuff” concealed on him.

Mr Hopkins said two packages were recovered, containing 163 pregablin and 50 zopoclone capsules, plus one-and-a-half buprenorphine pills, worth an estimated total of £4,465 in prison values.

When interviewed, Hutchinson said he took so many drugs into the prison in case of lockdown.

Hutchinson, of Harlech Close, Eston, Middlesbrough, admitted three counts of conveying prohibited items into prison, on the basis most were for his own use, with some to be sold on to other inmates.

The court heard his 23 past convictions for 41 offences include four drug-related matters, the last being conspiracy to supply class A substances, for which he received a 78-month sentence in July 2018.

Shaun Dryden, in mitigation, said Hutchinson was still serving that sentence, albeit by then on day release in open prison, at the time of the offences for which he was now before the court.

But, Mr Dryden said since his release on licence from that sentence, last August, Hutchinson has led a law-abiding life, in a settled relationship, remaining drug-free and working full-time as a scaffolder.

Judge Singh told Hutchinson he lucky not to have been dealt with earlier for the latest offences, but the fact that he is no longer taking drugs and is keeping out of trouble while working enabled him to pass a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He must also observe a four-month 7pm to 6am home curfew.

The judge told Hutchinson it was only the “excellent report” of his probation offender manager which spared him an immediate prison sentence.

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