Prison counsellor jailed for smuggling drugs after inmates threatened him to become courier

Telegraph Reporters
Jared Ismail was

A prison counsellor has been jailed for smuggling drugs inside a jail after he was threatened by inmates to become a courier when he scuppered their deals.

Jared Ismail was "coerced and pressured" into taking illegal substances into HMP Rochester, after he told guards he'd seen a package thrown over a wall during one of his sessions.

The 29-year-old, from Enfield, north London, had worked as a railway engineer and was visiting the Category C prison to provide training to inmates ahead of their release.

After reporting the package, Ismail received sinister telephone calls and messages, including a note left on his desk which referred to his family, while another said he needed "protection".

He eventually succumbed to the threats and, during a lunch break outside the prison walls, was given cocaine, cannabis, and three mobile phones.

It was as he returned to work that he was caught with the 36 grams of skunk cannabis hidden in a drinks container, before a further search uncovered almost 7 grams of cocaine and the phones.

Ismail admitted three offences of conveying prohibited articles into prison - and was jailed for 20 months.

Judge Philip Statman described the case at Maidstone Crown Court on Monday as "wholly exceptional" and one of the most "upsetting and tragic" he had ever dealt with.

Judge Statman said: "Instead of going to the police, which would have been the correct course, and no doubt because of the fears and pressures on you, you took the wrong path.

"Those threats led you to embark on a course of conduct you would never have ordinarily taken."

Referring to what he described as "uplifting and moving" testimonials, he added: "You have shown a total commitment to helping ex-cons. You are in every way a decent family man and human being."

David Osborne, defending, said Ismail had initially worked with former prisoners already released from custody before his company was also asked to provide in-house training.

He said: "This was a man frightened for himself and frightened for his family."

Ismail's kindness and naivety were exploited by "one or two" of the men he was trying to rehabilitate, he added, leading to him making a "disastrous decision".

The threats even continued after his arrest, the court heard. One of Ismail's bosses was emailed by an inmate who, in what was described as a "proper rant", said he had been "made to look a fool".

Mr Osborne added: "He said if Jared Ismail ever found himself in prison he would be met with severe violence. This was the type of person he was dealing with and was frightened of."