An acting prison governor has been convicted of misconduct in a public office after having a sexual relationship with an inmate.
Under the SVGA, prisoners would have been considered as vulnerable adults and prison officer’s roles would have been ‘regulated activity’. With the new Protection of Freedoms legislation this group have been discounted, so despite the conviction, there is no legal reason that these officers could not work in similar positions of trust with children and other vulnerable groups. It highlights how the new world of safeguarding will add to the need for new approaches to identifying unsuitable staff .
Russell Thorne, 41, of Sutton, London, had the relationship at Downview women’s prison, from 2006 to 2010. During the trial, jurors heard Thorne, of Sinclair Drive, demanded the frightened inmate perform a sex act on him, telling her “it’s an order”. The court heard the woman fell in love with the prison officer but also felt she had to comply with his demands for fear of losing perks that came out of their relationship. She told the court contraception was not used but she was paranoid she might end up pregnant, and Thorne provided her with laxatives in an attempt to prevent this.
Co-defendant Simon Dykes, 45, of Woking, Surrey, was cleared of three out of six misconduct charges he faced. Verdicts are awaited on three counts. These related to allegations of sex acts with six women at the jail. Four accused him of sleeping with them and two others claimed he touched one of them and masturbated outside the other’s cell. The defendant, who was previously in the Army and had also been a fireman, said such behaviour would have been “professional suicide”.
Det Insp Jo Sidaway, from Surrey Police, said: “I hope that this result brings confidence that those entrusted with the care of vulnerable women will be brought to justice if they abuse their position.