Prison worker denies collecting inmate's semen in affair allegation

A prison officer collected a convict's sperm in a syringe while having an affair with him behind bars, a court heard.

Sessions House
Sessions House

Chorley grandmother Alison Sharples, 46, denies misconduct in a public office by having an inappropriate relationship with an inmate while she worked as an operational support officer at HMP Garth in Leyland.

On the first day her trial at Preston's Sessions House, jurors were told the syringe was found in her handbag when she arrived for a night shift at the jail two years ago.

When quizzed, Sharples, of Hamilton Street, Chorley, claimed she had used it to give Calpol to her granddaughter, but prosecuting, Camille Morland told the court tests revealed DNA matched prisoner Marvyn Berkeley.

Petite dark-haired Sharples, wearing a black suit and white shirt, stared straight ahead as the prosecutor said: "It's an unusual charge.

"We say she wilfully misconducted herself by engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a serving prisoner, and that was inappropriate and makes her guilty of this offence.

"As far as the law is concerned misconduct in a public office its necessary for the prosecution to prove the defendant was acting as a public officer, that she wilfully neglected to perform her duty or misconducted herself to such a degree that it amounts to an abuse of the public's trust in the officer. We must prove she did so without reasonable excuse or justification.

"It went far beyond what was expected by way of her employment and it was in fact of an intimate sexual nature.

"On October 22, 2014 the defendant arrived for work and was searched by security. During the search was found a purple syringe applicator. Inside of that was a clearish residue, a very small amount and the defendant was asked at that point what it was. She said it was for giving a baby Calpol."

She added Sharples was questioned under caution on two occasions, and said she was unaware of the semen.

But in a later defence statement she claimed she was given the syringe in the "course of her legitimate duties" by the inmate who said he wanted to "have a baby with her". She said she washed the fluid out and did not think it was appropriate to discard it in prison and put it in her bag, forgetting to discard it.

Ms Morland said: "The first main piece of physical evidence is the applicator and the semen, the second is a hand written letter.

"On the morning of November 11 police went to the defendant's home. They seized a handwritten letter, it was in a chest of drawers in the corner of the room.

"It had been slid in between the front of the drawer and underwear. From the position of the letter the officer was of the view it had been placed carefully in the drawer rather than being stuffed."

She added analysis comparing the text with Berkeley's handwriting found it to be his handwriting.

Sharples suggested the letter may have come into her possession inadvertently when he asked her to pass a newspaper to another prisoner.

The letter told her to "be strong" and said: “I don’t trust no-one in here.

I can’t talk to you properly on them walkways but whoever has reported you for talking to me has took the p*** and totally out of order. I know it’s not no other con so beware of the people you’re working with. Look close to home Alison.

"You didn't even have to tell me you got reported for talking to me that shown me more, how much of a genuine person you are so thankz a lot for being you I appreciate it so much."

Sharples former friend Nicola Ball will give evidence in her trial. She told police Sharples was having an inappropriate relationship with Berkeley, and said Sharples had gathered the semen from a sample pushed under a cell door in a plastic bag.

She says Sharples was open with her about the relationship and even told her she had taken a phone into jail for her lover.

The governor of Garth is also expected to give evidence later in the trial.