HMP Lindholme nursing assistant Amy Hatfield jailed over £1m drug and weapons smuggling plot

  • Video report by Katie Oscroft

A health worker who was at the heart of the biggest ever plot to smuggle drugs and weapons into prison has been jailed.

Amy Hatfield, a 38-year-old nursing assistant, and 16 co-conspirators smuggled more than £1million of drugs, knives and mobile phones into HMP Lindholme in Doncaster.

She was recruited by an inmate, 35-year-old Joseph Whittingham, who she was in a relationship with to facilitate the operation.

Along with fellow prisoners, family members and friends they organised a "sophisticated" conspiracy to flood the jail with heroin, MDMA, spice, ketamine and cannabis before laundering the profits.

Sheffield Crown Court heard inmates could buy almost "any drugs" they wanted.

Hatfield was arrested in October 2019 after a tip-off that she had begun a sexual relationship with Whittingham.

She admitted she had "some stuff" on her when she was stopped by police as she entered the prison.

A search revealed she had MDMA, cannabis and Ribena bottles filled with spice.

Amy Hatfield arriving at HMP Lindholme on the day of her arrest. Credit: South Yorkshire Police

She also had tobacco, anabolic steroids, mobile phones and chargers.

Examination of Hatfield’s phones, movements and banking activity found a number of co-conspirators. They were arrested and charged with offences linked to the smuggling of substances and phones into prisons for large sums of cash.

A 19-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court concluded this year with the conviction of the last of 16 people for their roles in the conspiracy.

Sentencing Hatfield to 10 years and two months in prison, Judge Kirstie Watson said her affair with Whittingham was a "significant breach of trust and abuse of position".

The judge told Hatfield: "It must have been clear to you the impact the increased use of drugs was having on the prison population and the increased workload and stress on your colleagues."

Whittingham was jailed for more than 11 years.

Some of the co-conspirators. Credit: South Yorkshire Police

The others sentenced were:

  • Kieran Murphy, 26, of HMP Altercourse, who was jailed for seven years and nine months.

  • Jordan Needham, 31, of HMP Dovegate, who was jailed nine years and six months in prison.

  • Anthony Campbell, 38, of HMP Dovegate, who was jailed for 11 years.

  • Courtney Ward, 26, of Harvey Close, Nottingham, who was jailed for four years and six months.

  • Audrey Needham, 56, of Comfrey Close, Nottingham, who was jailed for four years and three months.

  • Deborah Stoddard, 56, of Shorefields Village, Liverpool, who was jailed for nine years and six months.

  • Leighton Kemp, 29, of Erewash Gardens, Nottingham, who was jailed for five years.

  • Kora Haley, 30, of Holme Lane, Bradford, who was jailed for three years and four months.

  • Aneeze Williamson, 30, of HMP Leeds, who was jailed for five years and five months.

  • Natalie Williamson, 35, of West Royd Drive, Shipley, who was jailed for 12 months.

  • Lee Holmes, 44, of Sylvia Terrace, Stanley, who was jailed for two years and three months.

  • Lucy Whittingham, 37, from Bradford, who was given a two-year suspended sentence and a community order.

  • Paul Whittingham, 59, of Halifax Road, Bradford, who was given a 20-month suspended sentence and a community order.

  • Lydia Pinnington, 23, of Clieves Road, Liverpool, who was given a 14-month suspended sentence and a community order.

The conspiracy included smuggling knives into the prison. Credit: South Yorkshire Police

Det Sgt Gareth Gent, of the South Yorkshire Police Prison Anti-Corruption Unit, said the sentences marked the end of an "unprecedented four-year investigation into one of the most significant and complex prison conspiracies in the country".

He added: "The amount of work that went into piecing together the activities of the network of criminals both in and out of the prison system, working to smuggle dangerous and illegal substances into HMP Lindholme for money, is considerable.

"Prisons should be places of safety where inmates can get help and support as they work towards rehabilitation. We know that sadly, the circulation of drugs and other illicit substances and articles causes great misery and violence in our prisons.

"We continue to work closely with the prison service to eliminate this kind of activity in prisons, and are steadfast in our commitment to identifying those exploiting the system. We will ensure those responsible are met with the full force of the law."

In a statement after the sentencing, prisons minister Damian Hinds said: "The vast majority of staff in our prisons are hardworking and honest, working every day to cut crime and protect the public. 

“As this case shows, we will not hesitate to take the strongest possible action against those who think the rules do not apply to them, and we have bolstered the Counter-Corruption Unit that works round the clock to clamp down on the tiny minority who undermine the service with their dangerous behaviour." 

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