October 2018

Sex offender believed to have been supplied phones in prison – via a drone

A convicted sex offender bombarded a vulnerable teenaged girl with calls and texts from inside a prison, a court heard.

He was using two phones which are believed to have been flown into the jail by drone.

Philip Croker, 30, of Ryecroft st, Gloucester, was able to get hold of the two mobile phones while locked up in Bristol Prison.

At Gloucester crown court Croker admitted breaching a sexual risk order (SRO) designed to protect one specific teenage girl and to also prevent him from having any contact with girls under 18.

He admitted making the calls and texts between 25th June and 20th July this year. He also admitted two further offences of possessing mobile phones in Bristol prison between those dates.

Prosecutor Janine Wood told Judge Ian Lawrie QC that the sexual risk order was imposed on Croker at Cheltenham magistrates court on 16th April this year. The reason for the order was that he was making contact with under age girls, particularly one specific girl, the court was told.

“She is now 18, but was clearly younger than that at the time,” Mrs Wood said.

Croker was ordered ‘not to contact her by any means, even if invited by her, for four years’.

The barrister said Croker had already flouted the terms of that order once before.

“He was released from prison on 4th May 2018,” Mrs Wood continued. “Within a short time, a week, he had contacted her an estimated 400 times by phone.

“He was arrested on 12th May, and he was sentenced to custody at this court,” the prosecutor said.

She told the judge that the police began to have ‘suspicions’ that Croker had continued to contact the victim ‘from unlawfully held phones in prison’.

Judge Lawrie asked Detective Constable Gavin Davis of the Gloucestershire Child Sexual Exploitation team how the phones were smuggled in.

DC Davis said he could not be sure, but believed it was by drone.

The court heard a statement from the Security Governor of Bristol Prison, Chris Taylor.

He said: “Being in possession of a mobile phone, a criminal’s lifestyle continues uninterrupted. So a sentence does not reduce crime.

“They undermine safety and security, and are used to co-ordinate trafficking, which leads to assaults and disturbances.”

The judge observed: “It is detrimental to good prison discipline, in summary.”

DC Davis was called to the witness box by the judge.

“We applied for a SRO due to concerns about the defendant and his relationship with younger women,” he said. “Going back for quite a number of years and a different number of women.”

The judge ruled that Croker’s behaviour was ‘persistent’ and the sentence ‘will be custody of a reasonable duration’.

“There is a danger about him,” the judge said, “There is something very concerning about the way he behaves to young women. Add to that a mental health issue, you can understand the court’s concern.”

The judge jailed Croker for 32 months for the breach of the sexual risk order, and imposed two 16 month concurrent jail terms for the possession of mobile phone in prison offences.