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A prison officer who admitted having a sexual relationship with an inmate at the prison where she worked has been sentenced to six months in jail.

The relationship began in October last year and was discovered the following month, when the authorities saw the couple kissing.

Melissa Priestley, 33, had worked for almost a decade at HMP Low Newton, a women’s prison in Durham where the notorious serial killer Rose West is locked up.

Priestley was immediately suspended from her job after the allegations came to light, Durham Crown Court heard.

Paul Reid, prosecuting, said the prison custody manager found many letters from Priestley to inmate Leonie Kinnish, “speaking of very considerable affection felt by this defendant to the prisoner.”

He added: “It would appear that affection was reciprocated in a letter written by the prisoner to the defendant.”

Mr Reid said on one occasion Kinnish was seen to lift up her top and expose her breasts to the defendant.

Ros Scott Bell, mitigating, said: “There was kissing, but not much beyond that, which shows a degree of restraint on behalf of the defendant.”

Despite Miss Scott Bell’s pleas for a suspended sentence, Judge Hickey said “it was just too serious” to be anything other than an immediate sentence.

lesbian affair
                                     Leonie Kinnish


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