Son tricked cancer suffering dad into taking cannabis into jail

A prisoner tricked his cancer-suffering dad into smuggling nearly £500 of cannabis into HMP Altcourse.

James Farrell, 72, thought he was bringing two packages of tobacco for his inmate son, 38-year-old Stuart Farrell.

Farrell jnr told his dad he was being bullied at the Fazakerley jail, which left Farrell snr and his wife "worried sick".

The OAP returned home from bingo to find two packages outside his property in Wellington Road, Ellesmere Port.

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Liverpool Crown Court heard he then tried to sneak them into the Catagory B prison during a planned social visit.

Prosecutors accepted Farrell snr didn't know he was in fact transporting cannabis on November 4 last year.

Michael Stephenson, prosecuting, said Farrell snr gave the items to his son, but this was spotted by prison officers, who escorted Farrell jnr away and searched him.

The prisoner handed one package to the guards and another fell from his underwear during the search.

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A police expert said they contained 24.8g of cannabis, with a street value of up to £372, and 12.45g of cannabis resin, valued at up to £124.

Mr Stephenson said: "Although he can't provide or doesn't provide a multiplier to reflect the value in prison, he does make the observation the drugs would have considerably greater value within the prison system."

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Farrell jnr admitted possessing cannabis and cannabis resin with intent to supply, on the basis he knew he was receiving Class B drugs.

The court heard he has been sentenced in the last 18 months for harassment, breaches of a restraining order and assaults.

Farrell jnr was being held on remand at the time over an allegation of assault causing actual bodily harm, for which he was convicted and jailed for nine months on November 18 last year.

Farrell snr, who pleaded guilty to conveying a List 'A ' prohibited article into prison, has not committed any offences since 1980.

Simon Parry, defending both men, said Farrell snr was motivated by the welfare of his son and "worried" about him being bullied.

He said: "He's always been in employment, a hard-working man contributing to society, and he's now retired, but his retirement is really clouded by the awful personal circumstances that he and his wife of 38 years are currently living through."

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HMP Altcourse, Liverpool, Merseyside

Mr Parry said Mrs Farrell suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was reliant on a wheelchair, meaning that if her husband was jailed, the state would have to provide full-time care for her.

The court heard Farrell snr was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, involving multiple malignant tumours, but the start of this treatment had been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawyer said there was "no real guarantee the health care provision for him would be as effective in custody".

He said Farrell jnr didn't have any previous convictions for drug offences.

Mr Parry said: "He is certainly not some kind of prison drug baron that we from time to time sometimes come across.

"He's more reflective of that type of inmate who is susceptible to the wants of others who clearly do want drugs in prison."

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He said Farrell jnr had genuine remorse for the "jeopardy" he had put his dad in and his lack of "thinking skills" was shown in him "not using the appropriate channels to report any concerns he had about being in Altcourse".

Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said it was a serious and sad case, resulting in a father and son in the dock at the same time.

The judge said: "Stuart Farrell was complaining of being bullied by more sophisticated criminals within Altcourse.

"Whatever the reality of that background, what is true, is in a move that can only be described as low in the extreme, he tricked his father.

"He instructed his father that his plight would be helped in Altcourse if his father could bring in some tobacco on his next visit."

Recorder Unsworth said Farrell snr returned from "pensioner's bingo" to find two packages, which he "secreted on his person" and took to jail the following day.

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He said Farrell snr was "extremely frank" with police and told them everything he could, but his son really knew what was in the packages.

The judge said: "This was a shameful way to treat his father. His father had been placed in a terrible position and it was, as I've said, using his father in a shameful way."

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Recorder Unsworth said: "It's clear he and Mrs Farrell have been worried sick in recent years by the behaviour of their son."

He said because of his strong personal mitigation and the significant harmful impact on his wife, he could spare Farrell snr jail, and handed him nine months in prison, suspended for 12 months.

Recorder Unsworth told Farrell jnr drugs were "an instrument of power, extortion and oppression" in jail, used to "undermine discipline and good order essential to running a prison properly", as he handed him 18 months behind bars.

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