Judge shows mercy after dad used smuggled mobile phone in prison while daughter was in hospital

Holme House Prison.
Holme House Prison.

A prisoner who used a smuggled phone to check on his sick baby in hospital was shown mercy by a judge.

The baby boy’s dad and his grandad, who were both locked up in Holme House Prison in Stockton, were discovered sending calls and texts home to the mum in Hartlepool.

The prisoners both risked having months added to their sentences, Teesside Crown Court was told.

The prison governor James Willoughby said that the main purpose of smuggling mobiles was to communicate about drugs being brought inside.

But prosecutor Rachel Masters said that there was no suggestion that it was the case with the illegal phone used by dad David Gascoigne, 32.

Checks showed that the traffic in May was between him and his worried family.

The phone was found on May 10 in a locker in his cell and both Gascoigne and his cell mate denied it was anything to do with them.

Miss Masters said that Gascoigne had 34 convictions for 75 offences and he was serving an 18 months sentence for criminal damage and he was due to be released in September.

Stephen Constantine, defending, said that four prisoners were taken before the governor and one man, not Gascoigne, admitted that the phone was his. Another man had been the most prolific user.

A total of 144 text messages had been exchanged in a week between one man and his partner.

Mr Constantine said that Gascoigne had missed the birth of his baby, and being separated from his partner when the child was taken to hospital was very stressful.

Mr Constantine added: “The child’s grandfather, who was also in the prison, was also a prolific user.

“There was no evidence of any drug link, and there are occasions where perhaps the court may be able to step back from adding to the sentence.”

He said that the prisoner who admitted that the phone was his had been dealt with internally.

Judge Tony Briggs told Gascoigne, who appeared over a videolink from Holme House Prison: “The illicit obsession of a mobile phone in prison is a matter of some seriousness and inevitably attracts a custodial sentence which would be deemed to be the consequences in your case.

“I am satisfied that you have particular family difficulties at the moment arising out of the birth of a child born in January this year.

“I am satisfied from the technical evidence that you made phone calls which were exclusively to members of your family and referred to the position of your child.

“It should be seriously understood that the possession of a mobile phone in prison is a serious offence.

“It is only in the peculiar circumstances of this case that it allows me to take a step due to the highly unfortunate circumstances in which you found yourself.”

Gascoigne, of Avondale Gardens, Hartlepool, was sentenced to three months jail to run concurrently to his present sentence after he pleaded guilty to having a mobile phone in prison.