"She really needs help" - Woman who smuggled cannabis into HMP Onley near Rugby avoids being jailed

Haywood waited two years for the trial, and in that time she not offended any further

Hayley Haywood.
Hayley Haywood.

A woman who smuggled cannabis into Onley prison has escaped being jailed despite Court of Appeal guidance saying the offence should ‘ordinarily demand an immediate sentence.’

Hayley Haywood had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to taking prohibited items into HMP Onley, near Rugby, as well as a further offence of assault.

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But exceptionally, Haywood (35) of Holyhead Road, Coventry, was sentenced to ten months in prison suspended for 12 months and was ordered to take part in a rehabilitation activity.

Prosecutor Andrew Wilkins said that in June 2019 Haywood was visiting a prisoner in HMP Onley, when she was seen to pass something to him.

Prison officers intervened, and it was found she had handed over 12 grams of cannabis, worth £120 in street deals on the outside, but more valuable behind bars, and some tobacco.

When she was questioned after being arrested, Haywood said she had been offered £300 to take the contraband into the jail.

Haywood was bailed, and in May 2020 she became involved in an incident with a woman she knew – which had originally led to her being charged with robbery.

She denied that, and on the day of her trial a plea of guilty to a charge of assault was accepted.

Mr Wilkins explained that during the incident, Haywood had kicked the other woman, knocking her phone out of her hand, and had then picked it up and taken it.

She still had the phone when she was arrested a few days later - but her plea of not guilty to theft had been accepted because there was ‘an issue about how long she intended to keep it.’

Mr Wilkins added that Haywood had 38 offences on her record, mainly for minor offences, and there had been a gap between 2012 and 2016 and then again from then until 2019.

Expressing displeasure at the time it had taken for Haywood to be dealt with, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano remarked: “Two years for a completely straight-forward case to get to this court, a case where she made admissions in interview.”

She pointed out that Court of Appeal guidance was that the supply of drugs into a prison was ‘more serious than supply in the community, and would ordinarily demand an immediate sentence.’

Derek Johashen, defending, said: “This is a woman who is not of good character, but her offending is predominantly low-level shoplifting and assault.”

He said Haywood, who had been remanded in custody for just over a month, had struggled with relationships with abusive men, and had been leading ‘a fairly disfunctional lifestyle.’

“Her offences are at a time when there is a huge amount of instability in her life. All her offending is because she is the victim of circumstances around her.

“It’s clear she is a vulnerable person, and she has spent time living rough.

“She was duped by someone who said they would get her help to get a lawyer to help recover her children, and so she became involved in taking cannabis into the prison.

“She has kept out of trouble now for two years. A custodial sentence is going to stuff any opportunity she has of making progress in a court hearing about her seven-month-old child.”

And Judge de Bertodano commented: “She really needs help. She can have her chance today.”

She told Haywood: “You have had to wait for two years to get here, and you have not been committing any offences since then. You have shown the court you can live without offending, and that is what I’m going to trust you to go on doing.

“You should go to prison for this today, but I am not going to do that.

“What is staying me is that it has been two years, and you have not had the opportunity to be dealt with before now and have now spent a month in prison.”