A female inmate has earned a much longer 'stretch' behind bars for persistent attacks on prison staff, mostly for biting but also including two incidents in which she threw urine at officers.

Durham Crown Court heard that Phoebe Adlard has served previous sentences for disruptive behaviour in prisons where she has been detained in recent years.

She was before the court for seven offences committed in the first few months of last year, after her arrival at HMP Low Newton, on the outskirts of Durham, to serve a 16-week sentence for three earlier assaults on prison staff, imposed by magistrates in Cambridgeshire in December 2022.

The now 25-year-old defendant, originally from Lincolnshire, admitted six assaults on emergency workers, all prison officers, two of them for incidents known as, “potting”, in which urine was thrown at jail staff.

The Northern Echo: Phoebe Adlard facing sentence for attacks on prison officers at HMP Low Newton, near Durham

But she also admitted having a prohibited weapon, an improvised knife, in a prison setting, found under her pillow in a cell search.

When she gave her guilty pleas to the seven charges, at the court last month, she was asked by Judge Jo Kidd why she behaved as she had done to prison staff.

She replied that she felt she had to protect herself from the officers, due to the “trauma” she claimed they put her through.

Adlard appeared at the sentencing hearing via video link from HMP Bronzefield, in Surrey, where she is now detained.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, described the assaults as “persistent conduct”, using force to break the skin of officers in most of the bite attacks, but with the added degradation and humiliation of the two “potting” incidents.

One of the bitten officers had to receive a vaccination to ensure she was not infected by Hepatitis B following one attack, while another officer was the subject of two assaults by the defendant and has become unnecessarily “hyper-vigilant” when dealing with inmates in the aftermath of her experiences with Adlard.

Mr Soppitt said in one incident a drawing was recovered from her cell in which she indicated her intention to bite officers.

Aspects of a report by an offender manager who has dealt with the defendant, on behalf of the Probation Service, were read to the court.

The report stated that Adlard had been due to be released from prison for her previous offences on July 23 this year and that the plan was for her to return to Lincolnshire to live at her mother’s address.

It conceded there had been “issues” with her behaviour in her time in custodial settings which had resulted in her being moved to different establishments in the female prison estate.

In each prison she has attacked prison staff, but she has a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum and there have been issues where she finds it difficult to deal with social situations and coping with many aspects of life.

Assisted by a police contact there had been signs of improved behaviour, but even in her recent stay at HMP Bronzefield there were said to have been behavioural issues making her difficult to manage, including incidents of self-harm.

The Northern Echo:

Asked by the judge if she had anything to say, Adlard, who chose to be unrepresented, merely said: “No, I’m alright.”

Judge Kidd told her that from the time she arrived at Low Newton, in January last year, she behaved, “in a violent way to many prison officers.”

The judge said there have been problems caused for prison staff when trying to check if she had armed herself with improvised weapons, with which to either harm herself or other people.

Judge Kidd said her diagnosis on the autistic spectrum had impacted on her behaviour but told her the offences were so serious only further custodial sentences could be justified.

“Those hard-working prison officers should not have to go to work to be assaulted.

“They were carrying out a very important public duty.

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“When you bite people, in addition to the pain, there’s the possibility of passing disease.”

The judge said the drawing recovered from her cell indicated she was planning or considering biting prison officers.

Judge Kidd imposed further prison sentences totalling 34-months, but starting from today (Wednesday, April 10) rather than when Adlard was previously due to have been released, in July.