Prison teacher jailed for secret romance with inmate

A prison teacher and mother-of-two who had a romance with an inmate has been jailed for 21 months.

Jennifer Forshaw, 28, ignored concerns by authorities at HMP Wymott in Leyland, Lancashire, that she was vulnerable due to her marriage break-up and continued her secret relationship with prisoner Ian Howard.

Her indiscretions were finally uncovered by her estranged husband, who found intimate text messages on her mobile phone and prints of explicit selfie photographs taken by the defendant, which she intended to give to Howard.

Mr Forshaw went on to disclose the relationship to a security guard at the prison and she was arrested at her place of work on June 7 last year, Preston Crown Court heard.

The English teacher, employed by Manchester College, made no comment when interviewed and, within hours of being released on bail, she bought a new mobile phone which she used to continue communicating with her love interest.

Forshaw was re-arrested at her home two months later where letters, birthday cards and evidence of a large amount of phone contact with the prisoner were found. A search of his cell identified similar correspondence, the court was told.

Forshaw went on to plead guilty to committing misconduct in a public office between December 2015 and June last year and also to smuggling a mobile phone SIM card into the prison during the same period to be used by Howard.

Sentencing her to 11 months in jail for the misconduct offence and an additional 10 months for conveying a prohibited article into prison, Judge Ian Leeming QC told Forshaw: "You grossly breached the trust placed in you and the duties of your engagement."

Robert Dudley, prosecuting, said Forshaw, of Barnsley Street, Wigan, began work at the prison in 2012 and that Howard joined her English class after he was transferred to HMP Wymott in November 2015.

He said: "Mrs Forshaw and her husband separated in February 2016, although she was later to admit that her relationship with Mr Howard began somewhat earlier than that.

"In April, the authorities became concerned about Mrs Forshaw's relationship with her students in general terms, particularly at a time when she was vulnerable due to her marital split.

"At that stage, they were attempting to nip any relationships in the bud."

Nick Ross, defending, said Forshaw, who previously taught at Hindley Young Offenders Institute, was "absolutely ashamed" of her behaviour.

He said: "By virtue of her foolishness in endeavouring to purse a relationship with a prisoner in her role as an English teacher, she has lost her good name and she very much understands that it is a very serious matter.

"She says she has ruined her life and cannot believe what she has done to her two young children."

He said that there was no evidence the relationship went beyond "heavy flirtatiousness".

He added: "It is right that she met the prisoner on his release and she soon realised, not surprisingly, that she had made a very bad choice.

"The whole sordid business was very much against a background of failing mental health, a failing marriage and her own vulnerability."

Mr Ross asked Judge Leeming to consider imposing a suspended sentence but the judge said the higher courts had made it plain such offences undermined prison discipline and there also needed to be a deterrent element in sentencing.

The Crown offered no evidence at an earlier hearing against prison officer Emma Blake, 28, who had been charged with conspiracy to commit public office and a not guilty verdict was returned.


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