Man staying at a Leamington hostel tried to smuggle more than £200,000 worth of drugs into jail by soaking them in his legal documents

The synthetic cannabinoid was discovered when his constant anxious requests for access to his property made prison officers suspicious

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 8:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 8:28 pm

When a man was recalled to prison for breaching his licence conditions while staying at a Leamington hostel, he tried to smuggle more than £200,000 worth of drugs into the jail.

The synthetic cannabinoid had been soaked into 751 pages of legal documents Nathan Parish was trying to take with him into HMP Hewell.

But it was discovered when his constant anxious requests for access to his property made prison officers suspicious.

Nathan Parish

Parish (30) of Sabrina Court, Shrewsbury, was jailed for two years and five months after pleading guilty to possessing the cannabinoid-impregnated papers with intent to supply them.

Prosecutor Graham Russell said Parish, who had a record for offences of battery and harassment, was jailed for 16 months in June 2019 for assaulting a woman at Shrewsbury railway station.

After serving his sentence at HMP Hewell near Redditch, he was released on licence in February last year with a condition of staying at approved premises in Kenilworth Road, Leamington.

But in April two police officers were sent to the hostel following a report of Parish breaching his licence conditions and therefore being wanted for recall to prison.

He was not there, but another resident phoned him and he undertook to surrender himself to Leamington police station.

When he did so he turned up with a holdall and a suitcase which were searched – and, among clothing and personal items was a paper bag containing papers which appeared to relate to his case.

Parish was returned to HMP Hewell to serve a further period of his sentence, and his case and holdall were initially retained to be checked by the prison staff.

But his anxious requests about when he would be allowed to have them made the prison officers suspicious.

And when a sample of the 751 A4 pages of documents were tested, they were found to have been saturated with 4F-MDMB-Binaca – a highly potent synthetic cannabinoid.

Mr Russell said the sheets were worth £100-£300 each, giving a potential value of up to £225,000 – but that they could have fetched even more once cut up into credit card-sized pieces.

In text exchanges shortly before he surrendered to the police he was told not to do anything stupid, responding: “There’s 4,500 at stake here. I can earn 4,500 on a 28-day recall.”

When he was interviewed, he claimed he had been forced to take the papers in for someone.

In a statement, Lucy Young, the operations manager at HMP Hewell, said: “There has been an increase in the use of paper dipped in controlled drugs in order to traffic drugs into prison.

“Once in the prison it is cut up into deals and sold. Some prisoners have been developing a drug dependency they did not have before.

“It is difficult to detect, but Hewell has increased its use of drug dogs.”

Derek Johashen, defending, submitted: “There are features of a lesser role. Others are involved by nature of pressure.

“This is a case of a person going back into prison who has taken with him a volume of paperwork because he has been obliged to do that because he owes a debt.

“It was created while he was previously in prison, and he was taking the papers in to clear that debt. The defendant is not necessarily saying he deliberately placed himself in a position where he had to be recalled.

“He was playing a limited role under direction. He was being told to take something in and hand it over to someone else.”

Jailing Parish, Recorder Balraj Bhatia QC told him: “It is plain that, for whatever reason, you entered into an agreement where you would take a large number of pages of legal documents, some 751 pages, saturated with a cannabinoid, with a potential for making a huge financial profit, into the prison.

“Anyone who takes drugs into a prison causes serious problems in a number of ways.

“There are people in prison because they’re addicted, and it would be a place where they can try to get over their addiction – but it doesn’t happen because people like you take drugs in.

“That places this highly into a significant role. It is motivated by financial or other advantage. This calls for a deterrent sentence.”