A female prison officer has been spared jail after having secret “trysts” in a cleaning cupboard with a 20-year-old inmate. Stacey Sutherland, 27, said she was looking for solace with convicted blackmailer Leon Shooter after her marriage to a fellow prison officer broke down and subsequent relationship with an older prison guard collapsed.
A court heard the pair would kiss and cuddle inside a cleaning cupboard at HMP Deerbolt in County Durham.
Their relationship came to light when a female officer spotted paperwork on Sutherland’s handbag when they went to the loo and discovered it was a love letter from Shooter.
She told her bosses and Sutherland was escorted from the premises and put under investigation.
Two 10-minute prison phone calls Shooter had made to Sutherland using a pseudonym for her were found, and more love letters were discovered at her home in Co Durham.
In one love letter, Shooter wrote that he liked her being nice to him, but also enjoyed it when she was “aggressive”, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Their relationship started in April this year when Shooter, a cleaner on the wing at the institution for young offenders, told Sutherland he would miss her when she was on holiday.
They then kissed and cuddled in the cupboard.
Sutherland made full admissions to police when she was arrested.
Shooter had previously been jailed for blackmail, and at the time of the incident was on remand, having been recalled to prison.
Judge Stephen Ashurst sentenced her to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
She was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and complete rehabilitation requirements.