Prison officer’s raunchy messages to inmate

Fiona Rayner arriving at Hull Crown Court.
Fiona Rayner arriving at Hull Crown Court.

A prison officer from near Pocklington has been jailed after striking up a passionate relationship with an inmate she exchanged raunchy messages with - behind prison walls.

Fiona Rayner, 45, invented a false name and address and sent letters and cards relating to sex and love to Lee Anderson while pretending to professionally watch over him at HMP Humber near South Cave.

Lee Anderson was initially caught with a mobile phone in his cell, but they were not initially rumbled. Only after his cell was searched a month later were her letters found.

Prison officials later discovered her number on his mobile phone which they had used.

Rayner, a prisoner officer for 10 years, appeared at Hull Crown Court for sentence last Monday after pleading guilty to a single charge of misconduct in public office.

Rayner, of St Everilda’s Terrace, Everingham, had known Anderson for nine years before their four-month affair at the former borstal started in March 2015.

She had counselled him about drugs and alcohol in Hull Prison and he had described her as “helpful.” He was not due for release until February 2016.

Anderson, who had served a number of prison sentences, began a more intimate relationship exchanging “emotive messages” in March 2015 when Rayner was moved out of the drug wing and Anderson was put on her wing. They had contact by telephone and post as well as seeing each other in prison.

The duo claimed they exchanged no more than 10 letters between them and three calls. Rayner said she only sent three letters. They insisted it was not a sexual relationship. Crown barrister Claire Holmes said Rayner agreed to write to Anderson, but to do so had set up a fake name of Stephanie Layton with an address in Leicester.

Rayner took the name from a character from the TV series Lazy Town, said Ms Holmes. The messages sent to Leicester were forwarded back to her.

“Anderson said he wrote seven letters,” said Ms Holmes. “They were expressing feelings and comments which could be said to be sexual. She wrote him three letters and on one occasion sent him £20. Anderson telephoned her on three occasions.”

Mid-way through the affair Rayner, who was in dispute with the prison service over her treatment, tendered her resignation on 27 May. On 9 June Anderson’s cell was searched and her letters were found.

Anderson tried to take the blame saying he had started the letter writing and she would never have done it if it was not for him.

When interviewed Rayner denied submitting a false document to get Anderson on to her prison wing. She said she had let the boundary slip while under stress and denied having sex. She said she had sent him three or four letters and cards.

Defence barrister David Gordon said: “This is a dark day for Claire Rayner. Inmates speak well of her. She is a person who wears her heart on her sleeves. She feels hard done to by the prison service. She is remorseful having acted in an unprofessional manner. She has made an error of judgment against a background of a fragile mind state.

“She felt under pressure at work and was clinically depressed.” He said Anderson accepted in his statement to the police that he felt sorry for her.

“He said: I was the main instigator,” said Mr Gordon. “I knew she was scared of the consequences. I sent the first letter. It is my fault she is in this situation.” He said he had not had contact with her and hoped she was well.

Rayner wept in court as Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC, told her: “There is no room for blurring the boundaries between a prison officer and a prisoner. You have let down your colleagues very badly indeed.”

“There were letters which had emotional and sexual content. There was also money exchanged. You made a bad decision to blur the boundaries between a prison officer and an inmate. The boundaries are clear and un-moveable. The reason for that are obvious. The risk of blackmail and a breach of security are two examples of the risk of this kind. Your conduct seeks to undermine the responsibilities and ethos of the prison service and risks undermining good order. In my judgment a prison officer who has an inappropriate relationship, even if it is not a sexual one, is deserving of a prison sentence when that behaviour results in misconduct in public office.”

Rayner wept as she was jailed for nine months.