Prison guard claims he was ‘threatened’ into smuggling in drugs

Highpoint prison, near Haverhill Picture: MICHAEL HALL

Highpoint prison, near Haverhill Picture: MICHAEL HALL - Credit: Archant

A prison officer has claimed he was threatened into smuggling a pound of cannabis, anabolic steroids and phones into a Suffolk jail.

Emilian Bulancea has admitted two counts of conveying contraband into HMP Highpoint, near Haverhill, last August – but claims he never intended to pass the illicit items to prisoners and saw the deed through to establish if any other guards were involved.

The 44-year-old appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday to enter guilty pleas to conveying list A articles into prison – namely 480g (16.93oz) of cannabis and 299 oxandrolone tablets – and conveying list B articles – mobile telephones – into the prison on August 10, 2019.

Bulancea, of Thomas Way, Braintree, entered the pleas on the basis that he never intended to pass any of the items to inmates.

The case could now result in a Newton hearing – a trial of issue, held before a judge – to determine the facts and decide on what basis Bulancea should be sentenced.

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Bulancea claims he was approached by two men in the shared car park area at his home address a week before the offences took place.

He claims the men said they knew where he lived and instructed him to carry a bag of prohibited items into the prison.

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In a written admission, Bulancea said he collected the bag and took it to the prison, but left it on a table in an area off-limits to prisoners to see if any other staff came looking for it.

Bulancea accepted taking the bag into prison knowing it was meant to be passed to prisoners – because he claims he was instructed to leave it in the servery area.

But he claims he saw the plan through only in part, under the misguided intention of seeing if any of his colleagues had anything to do with it.

The prosecution will decide next week if the basis of plea is acceptable, or if there needs to be a Newton hearing before Bulancea can be sentenced.

Judge David Pugh told him: “Following your pleas of guilty, I have given instructions for your basis of plea to be served and considered by the prosecution.

“The matter will return for further directions, when either your sentencing will be listed, or a Newton hearing to determine the facts.”

Bulancea was released on unconditional bail. A mention hearing will be held on September 16.

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