Stacey Sutherland (pictured at Teesside Crown Court) and prisoner Leon Shooter, 20, would kiss and cuddle inside a cupboard
A female prison officer has has been spared jail after having an affair with an inmate at an institution for young offenders.
Stacey Sutherland and prisoner Leon Shooter, 20, would kiss and cuddle inside a cleaning cupboard at HMP Deerbolt, Teesside Crown Court was told.
The 27-year-old, who became a prison officer in 2017, had also previously engaged in a relationship with a fellow prison officer after her marriage broke down.
Rachel Masters, prosecuting, told the court how the relationship between Leon and Sutherland came to light when a fellow prison officer entered the female toilet.
She spotted paperwork on top of Sutherland’s bag and suspected it was a love letter.
Ms Masters said the prison call record was checked and it was discovered that a woman Leon had been talking to a called ‘Sophie Jackson’ was in fact Sutherland.
Two phone calls and a number of letters of a sexual nature were discovered between Sutherland and Leon, who worked as a cleaner in the jail.
During one of the phone calls, Leon tells Sutherland that ‘he likes it when the defendant’s nice to him but also likes it when she gets aggressive’.
Leon, who has been convicted of blackmail, had been recalled to prison and was awaiting trial for a further offence at the time of the relationship.
The 27-year-old (pictured middle), who became a prison officer in 2017, had also previously engaged in a relationship with a fellow prison officer after her marriage broke down
Sutherland was escorted from the premises, placed under investigation and interviewed by police.
Ms Masters said: ‘She states the relationship had never progressed past kissing. Normally they would kiss and cuddle and that was it.
Sutherland, of County Durham, admitted one count of misconduct in a public office between April 1 and May 14 this year.
Rebecca Suttle, defending, told the court: ‘It didn’t extend beyond the occasional tryst in a cleaning cupboard, if you can put it that way.
‘This offence took place during what was a particularly difficult period of Miss Sutherland’s life.
Sutherland (right) was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months
‘Her marriage had not that long ago broke down and she had engaged in a relationship with a fellow prison officer who was relatively older than her. She describes that relationship as being very controlling in which jealously and isolation were very much features.
‘Miss Sutherland found herself confiding in Mr Shooter and seeking solace from him.’
Ms Suttle said Sutherland felt criticised by not only management but by those around her and she had nobody apart from Leon.
She said: ‘Ms Sutherland sits before you today not only losing her job and career but her reputation.
‘Her relationship with Mr Shooter was somewhat a fantasy, a get out from the difficulties of her day to day life.’
She said Ms Sutherland was the sole career for her six-year-old child as his father was not part of his life.
Judge Stephen Ashurst told Sutherland: ‘The relationships sexual activity was kissing and cuddling in a place where the cleaning materials were stored.
‘There is no evidence of any sexual activity, nor were you entering his cell.
‘It’s in some respects a blessing that the relationship did not develop any further otherwise my hands may have been very much tied.
‘You are, I know, ashamed of what you did and the fact you have ended your career in circumstances where you naively embarked upon this relationship with someone you ought to have stayed well clear if given his situation and yours.
‘It will take you a long time to live down your offending in this case.’
Judge Ashurst sentenced Sutherland to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months.
She was also ordered to complete 30 days rehabilitation activity requirement and 150 hours unpaid work.
HMP Deerbolt holds young adults age 18 to 21 and accepts those serving sentences between four years to Life.
HMP Deerbolt holds young adults age 18 to 21 and accepts those serving sentences between four years to Life