Prison gun threats

Kirkham prison
Kirkham prison

A prisoner was threatened with a hand gun when he refused to smuggle items into an open prison.

John O’Neill, who is married with two young children, was serving a six year term for robbery imposed in 2012 when he was asked to take a package into the Lancashire prison.

You understood the rules and regulations

In interview O’Neill, of Tern Grove, Heysham, near Lancaster, told officers he had initially refused but was then shown a gun.

Preston Crown Court heard he was on day release from HMP Kirkham, an open prison, due to a college course when he was approached by two men who threatened him with a handgun and asked him to take the package into the jail.

It was later found to contain cannabis, steroids, SIM cards and mobile phones.

Judge Mark Brown, jailing him for 10 months, said: “The fact you have been threatened is a factor I take into account but it cannot be determinitive of the outcome otherwise those individuals who thought by making threats they could get people to do this - and that they would be treated lightly - would simply encourage them.

“The message must go out that whatever the circumstances, if individuals are caught smuggling prohibited items, the court will adopt a very serious view of the case.”

The court heard O’Neill had previously been trusted to take cans of mackerel fish into the prison.

Judge Brown added: “Therefore it’s obvious that you understood the rules and regulations of what was permitted and what was not.

“You certainly knew it was not permitted to take in drugs and also mobile phones.

“I’m prepared to accept that the person with whom you were dealing and another individual made threats so that you took in the package, in which there were the drugs mobile phones and SIM cards.

“I’m also prepared to accept you were threatened with a gun but the fact remains you were a serving prisoner, you were being trusted by being allowed day release and you abused that trust by trying to smuggle the various items set out.”