Trainee probation officer shared intimate photos with convicted murderer

ipswich crown court

Ipswich Crown Court heard that Faye Hatto was friends with Todd Esherwood before he was sent to prison - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A trainee probation officer with Norfolk and Suffolk probation service exchanged intimate photographs with a convicted murderer who was using mobile phones he shouldn’t have had in prison, a court has heard.

Sentencing 29-year-old Faye Hatto to a conditional discharge, Judge Martyn Levett  said she had put her own personal feelings before her professional duty.

“You encouraged crime when you should have been discouraging it,” said the judge

He said that Hatto and Todd Esherwood had more than 4,000 contacts by mobile phone over a 13-month period between June 2019 and July 2020. “By receiving these calls you encouraged him to use a telephone in prison which is capable of being used in further crime,” said the judge.

“There needs to be good order and discipline in prison and it’s important that prisoners can’t communicate with the outside world with prohibited phones."

He accepted Hatto had known Esherwood before he was jailed for life for murder and there was no suggestion that she had any involvement in the illegal phones being taken into the prison.

He also accepted that she wasn’t professionally involved in monitoring him as a life prisoner.

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Judge Levett described her case as “wholly exceptional” and said that as a result of the offences she had left the probation service seven weeks before the end of her training.

Hatto, of Old School Walk, Arlesley, Bedfordshire, admitted three offences of intentionally encouraging the commission of an offence and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Joe Bird, prosecuting at Ipswich Crown Court, said Hatto had a relationship with Esherwood while he was a serving prisoner and there had been more than 4,200 communications between them with sometimes up to 40 contacts a day, including the exchange of “graphic and intimate” images.

The court heard that Hatto had no previous convictions.

Esherwood was convicted in 2013 with four other men of murdering 40-year-old Ian Church in Great Yarmouth in 2012 and was ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years of a life sentence.

 Micheal Clare, for Hatto, said she knew Esherwood before he was convicted of murder.

“Her friendship with him has nothing to do with either his incarceration or her role as a probation officer, trainee or otherwise,” he told the court.

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