Drug smuggle mother fails in appeal bid

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A MOTHER-of-five locked up for smuggling drugs to her manipulative ex-partner in jail has failed to convince top judges she was too harshly punished.

Claire Toni Simone Wilkinson, 29, of Ryton Square, Aspley, Nottingham, was jailed for four years at Lincoln Crown Court in January after admitting four counts of smuggling drugs into Ranby Prison, near Retford.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall, sitting with Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Hickinbottom in London’s Appeal Court, said the heroin and cocaine she smuggled was worth around £2,500 behind bars.

Wilkinson was a woman of previous impeccable character whose ex-boyfriend was serving time in Ranby, the court heard.

When she visited him out of loyalty and sympathy, he told her he was depressed and feared he would be “sliced up” by other inmates unless he got his hands on some drugs.

“She didn’t see this as manipulative behaviour and was completely taken in by him,” said the judge.

She was persuaded to carry out the smuggling errand, bringing in the stash of drugs on 21st July last year. She passed the packages to her ex-boyfriend in the visitors’ suite, but they were being watched covertly by prison staff via CCTV.

Wilkinson challenged her four-year term with claims that it was too tough given that she was pressured to comply and is needed by her five children.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall acknowledged the devastating effect her incarceration would have on the children - the youngest aged just two.

But people like her were “targeted and manipulated” by inmates to smuggle drugs “precisely because they don’t appear suspicious”, she added.

Despite her compassionate circumstances a “deterrent sentence is necessary in this type of offence”, said the judge, who concluded: “We are quite satisfied that four years cannot be said to be manifestly excessive.”