Home Kent News Sheppey prison officer who had baby with serving convicted murderer avoids jail

Sheppey prison officer who had baby with serving convicted murderer avoids jail

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Original article from Kent Live

A female prison officer who became pregnant from an illicit affair with a serving convicted murderer has been spared jail.

Kerianne Stephens, 26, was employed at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent when she had a sexual relationship with lifer Louis Tate.

The pair also exchanged phone calls and text messages via an illegally-held mobile later found in Tate's cell.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the affair led to Stephens giving birth to her daughter in June 2019 with Tate confirmed as the child's father.


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Stephens, of Woodlands Road, Aylesford, pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office at the category B jail between September 1 2018 and January 8 2019.

She also admitted unauthorised transmission of image or sound by electronic communication between the same dates.

Tate, 35, and formerly from Southall, London, pleaded guilty to the same phone offence.

He had been jailed for life with a minimum 18-year tariff in October 2010 for a hit-and-run murder of a father-of-three in Edgware, north London.

His affair with Stephens came to light when, during a move to another prison on October 25 2018, he was overheard telling another inmate he had left 'a six' in his cell. He also referred to a 'Miss Kerianne'.

As a result, his cell was searched and an iPhone 6 was discovered hidden in a sock on a table.

A download of the data revealed calls and text messages being exchanged with Stephens's personal mobile in the 11 days before his planned transfer to Lowdham Grange Prison in Nottingham.

Details of their sexual relationship and as to how it was conducted behind bars were not revealed during their sentencing hearing today/yesterday (THURS).

But on the day of her arrest as she arrived for work on January 8 2019, Stephens confirmed she was three months pregnant.

Her diary also revealed she had attended a pregnancy ultrasound scan a month earlier, and giving a conception date of September 29, the court heard.

'You were trained and aware of your responsibilities'

Stephens sobbed in the dock as Judge Philip Statman told her that despite the seriousness of her crime, exceptional circumstances which included the delay in court proceedings and the significant impact of custody on her toddler allowed him to impose a 16-month jail term suspended for two years.

But he told the mum: "You were trained and aware of your responsibilities and you would have known how important it would be for the rules to be observed and for you to set an example, not just to the prisoners in your care but also in terms of integrity to the officers with whom you served.

Kerianne Stephens arriving at Maidstone Crown Court last year

"You would have known the importance of boundaries when it came to dealing with those who had committed the gravest of crimes, namely murder.

"There will be those in the community who will look upon you and wonder how it can be that a sexual relationship between you and your co-defendant was able to continue, albeit over a comparatively short period of time, and leading to the birth of your child.

"This is not a court of morals but the acts you performed in a public office which led to sexual intercourse in a prison, undermining all that is going on in that institution, make this a very serious crime."

'Calls were made from her mobile to the mobile found in Mr Tate's cell'

Stephens was also ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and 25 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.

Prosecutor Maria Karaiskos said all the telephone communications were made while Stephens, who had been a prison guard for five years, was off-duty.

Many occurred however within minutes of her finishing a shift.

"Her mobile phone showed it had made or received over 50 calls and sent or received over 20 texts with the phone found in Mr Tate's cell between October 14 and October 25 2018," she told the court.

"There were also numerous attempted calls made and Internet-based calls made. A lot of material had also been deleted.

"In summary, it showed that when she was not working, calls were made from her mobile to the mobile found in Mr Tate's cell."

The night before Tate's prison transfer he called Stephens three times, with the calls lasting just over a total of two hours.

She then made a staggering 25 calls to him in the early hours and sent five texts.

Tate, who has 12 previous convictions for 33 offences, initially denied even knowing his lover until he was shown her photograph.

"He confirmed she was a prison officer that had worked at Swaleside, he stated he knew her and described her a a very professional officer," said the prosecutor.

"He denied any relationship with her other than a purely professional one."

The court heard Stephens had also been communicating with Tate's brother, although the details and his location were not given in court.

The phone found in Tate's cell had also been used to contact others on the outside.

Bethan Rogers, defending Stephens, said her sexual relationship with Tate occurred at a time when she had been 'broken down' by a previous abusive partner to such an extent that she was drinking, using cannabis and self-harming.

'She accepts what she did, she knows how wrong it was'

But Miss Rogers told the court the birth of her child had been her 'saving grace'.

"She was a deeply traumatised young woman and one has to ask why someone who is motivated and clearly intelligent finds herself in this extraordinary position," she said.

"She accepts what she did, she knows how wrong it was. In relation to the phone it's important to remember she didn't bring it in to the prison.

"She allowed its use without reporting it but the content of those messages seems entirely to be about their relationship.

"She is a profoundly immature and profoundly foolish woman who has made a big mistake but out of that mistake came something wonderful for her."

Tate was later transferred to category C prison The Mount in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, but appeared for sentencing via video link with HMP Elmley, also on the Isle of Sheppey.

Judge Statman jailed him for 10 months, to be served concurrently to his life sentence.

The court heard Tate has a prison adjudication for possessing a mobile phone in 2017, and on the day of Stephens's arrest was found with a USB stick plugged into his cell TV.

Sarah Morris, defending, said the phone contact with Stephens was extremely brief and entirely of a 'personal and romantic' nature.

In the immediate aftermath of the phone being found, he spent 28 days in isolation and lost his enhanced status.

However, he has since regained that position, become a violence reduction representative, and been commended for preventing a prison staff member from being assaulted.

Original Article