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Prison Officer In Love With Inmate Helps Him Escape

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Prison Officer In Love With Inmate Helps Him Escape

A former prison officer was jailed after forming a relationship with an inmate - even going on to help him escape.

After her marriage broke down, Erica Whittingham, 33, is said to have become 'smitten' with robber, Michael Seddon.

Derby Crown Court heard that Whittingham believed Seddon was in love with her - however, it seemed he had become involved with another woman while on the run from HMP Sudbury.

Whittingham, from Uttoxeter, was given a three-year prison sentence after admitting to two offences.

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Michael Seddon. Credit: Derbyshire Police
Michael Seddon. Credit: Derbyshire Police

Firstly, she was convicted of harbouring an escaped prisoner between 30 September 2019 and 18 March 2020.

The second offence was misconduct in a public office, which was related to the relationship she formed with the robber, between 8 January 2017 and 3 October 2019.

Mark Sharman, Whittingham's defence barrister, said: "She was smitten with this man.

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"It is right that history is littered with the often foolish and extreme things people have done in the name of love."

Erica Whittingham. Credit: Derbyshire Police
Erica Whittingham. Credit: Derbyshire Police

The judge, Recorder Balraj Bhatia QC told Whittingham: "I accept that you may have been going through difficult times, that your marriage of 11 years standing had dissolved, and you may have been emotionally vulnerable, but you knew what you were doing was wrong.

"The evidence makes it plain that you were responsible for escorting him away from those premises in due course, in the knowledge that he was an escaped prisoner."

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Her second offence happened when she was a custody officer at HMP Dovegate, a category B prison near Uttoxeter in Staffordshire.

Seddon was serving a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) for robbery.

IPPs were abolished in 2012, but according to the Prison Reform Trust, there were still more than 2,200 people serving the sentence as of 2019. They were given to prisoners thought to be too dangerous to be released upon the expiry of their original sentences.

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps
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Seddon was jailed in 2011 for tying up and attacking a 78-year-old man at his farmhouse in Bloxworth, Dorset.

Prosecuting, Daren Samat said the pair were still in touch and had met in various parts of the country 'on no fewer than eight occasions' - Whittingham had shelled out for accommodation.

However, Mr Samat said there was a break between 22 January 2020 and 26 March 2020, when Seddon formed a relationship with a woman in the Bournemouth area.

Seddon was eventually arrested on 27 March 2020 and taken to HMP Winchester. His phone calls at the prison were monitored, and these revealed his relationship with Whittingham.

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Mr Sharman said his client had initially resisted Seddon's advances, adding: "She is brutally honest in the pre-sentence report when she recalls that she had found someone to love her, someone she could talk to. Whether that was reciprocated or not, that was how she genuinely feels he felt towards her."

Featured Image Credit: Derbyshire Police

Topics: Police, UK News, crime, Prison

Anish Vij
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