A transgender prison officer who was caught with £3,500 worth of heroin in the car park of a Midlands prison has escaped a jail sentence.
Jail bosses have swooped down on Ollie Griffiths, 29, after a tip alleging he was smuggling for inmates at HMP Featherstone in Staffordshire.
A court heard how several heroin wraps were found in the floor of his car, stuffed into a tube of Pringles crisps, on July 31.
Griffiths, of Moseley, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to possession of diamorphine at Featherstone Prison.
He was sentenced to a 12 month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £280 in costs.
Transgender prison officer Ollie Griffiths (pictured) was caught with £3,500 worth of heroin in the car park of a Midlands jail escaped jail time
Griffiths, of Moseley, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to possession of diamorphine at Featherstone Prison
Jail bosses swooped down on Ollie Griffiths, 29, after a tip alleging he was smuggling for inmates at HMP Featherstone (pictured), Staffordshire
Sam Fraser, prosecuting, told Cannock Magistrates’ Court: ‘The defendant was a prison officer at Featherstone Prison. He arrived at work at 7:30 a.m.
“He was searched and seemed nervous but nothing was found so he was allowed to continue in the jail.
“Shortly after, about 45 minutes later, he was taken to the office and questioned by the governor who explained that there was information that he was bringing illicit objects into the prison.
Griffiths agreed to have prison bosses search his car and his “demeanor changed” when asked if contraband would be found, the court heard.
Heroin wraps potentially worth £3,520 were found in a purple Pringles tube in the passenger floor.
Ms Fraser told the court: ‘When asked if he had ever brought illicit items into prison, he said ‘yes, two or three times’.
She added: ‘His phone was scanned and it revealed messages that he met people on the wards to receive illicit items to take them to jail.’
But Griffiths – formerly known as Holly Griffiths – was spared jail after prosecutors charged him with drug possession, not the more serious charge of intent to supply.
Asked to explain District Judge Marcus Waite’s “astonishing” decision, Ms Fraser said examining attorneys told her to prosecute on any charges.
Judge Waite said: ‘Mr Griffiths is not charged with intent to supply so I have to deal with him on the ground that the £3,500 worth of heroin was for his own use.’
Griffiths, who was holding a Stephen King book in court, had no previous convictions, the court was told.
Richard Davenport, defending, said: ‘He is no longer employed in the prison service. He left his parents’ address.
“There have been various issues with the family because of his transition. He lives in shared accommodation and works as a chef.
Mr Griffiths, of Moseley, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to possession of diamorphine at Featherstone Prison
Judge Waite told Griffiths: “Your offense is serious. “You must understand that drugs are a scourge on our community and that Class A drugs, including heroin, cause untold misery, both on our streets and elsewhere.
“You have been caught with a significant amount of heroin which would be worth several hundred pounds if supplied.
‘However, there is no case against you that you intended to provide it by possessing it. “I don’t know what you intended to do with it.
The judge added: “In coming to my conclusion, I bear in mind that you have no prior convictions, your guilty plea and, in fact, the manner in which the prosecution brought the case against you. “