Prisoner jeopardises chances of release after being caught with mobile phone

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A serving life prisoner may have jeopardised his chances of being released on parole after he was caught in prison with a prohibited mobile phone.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Monday, June 12, how Sentuhurrah Thavapalasingam, 30, was caught with the Samsung phone at Derbyshire’s HMP Sudbury open prison.

Prosecuting solicitor Angela Hadfield said: “It was about 8.30pm, on June 10, when the prison officer saw the defendant about to leave the West wing exit after a roll call.

“Prisoners know they cannot exit wings after 8.30pm until 7.30am and he was asked why he was leaving the dorm and he got him to stop to carry out a rub-down search.

“The defendant said, ‘Are you for real?’. The phone and the USB cable were located.”

The court heard how Thavapalasingam was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 and he is due for possible parole in 18 months.

Thavapalasingam pleaded guilty to possessing the phone after the incident on June 10 which he was prohibited from doing under the Prisons Act.

Defence solicitor Julie Page said: “He had been almost a model prisoner and that is why he is at Sudbury prison.”

She explained that in March the defendant was due to start home leave with family coming from Sri Lanka but that was cancelled and his mother has been diagnosed with cancer and he had wanted to Skype her because he may never see her physically again.

District Judge Andrew Davison said: “Phones and custody don’t mix. There are far too many disciplinary cases being brought involving people using phones who can be supporting criminal activities such as drugs.”

However, he accepted this case revolved around the tragic circumstances of the defendant’s mother.

District Judge Davison sentenced Thavapalasingam to six months of custody to run concurrently with his existing sentence but warned the offence could have implications on whether he will be released or not when he is considered for parole.

Thavapalasingam was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.