Welsh Prison Officer Jailed Over Inappropriate Relationship with Male Inmate, Sending Him Explicit Images

A prison officer has been jailed over an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner, during which she sent him "sexually explicit" images.

Jennifer Gavan was sentenced to jail for eight months after she pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office after starting an inappropriate relationship with a male prisoner.

Gavan Provied Inmate with a Cellphone, Sent Sexual Images on Snapchat

Jennifer Gavan and Alex Coxon
Jennifer Gavan and Alex Coxon North Wales Police

Gavan was accused of entering into an inappropriate relationship with prisoner Alex Coxon, now 25, accepting £150 ($180) to bring a mobile phone into the jail, and communicating with him via a phone held illegally while working at HMP Berwyn, which houses more than 2000 inmates.

As reported by NorthWalesLive, Coxon, who had previous convictions for drugs, robbery and attempted robbery was jailed for ten months after admitting to the offense. Prosecutor David Mainstone told the court the discovery was made after a tip-off about a possible relationship.

After a search, a phone was found hidden under a prison laptop which contained sexual images of a woman. Gavan accepted contact with Coxon using Snapchat, sending a snap of herself kissing the inmate.

Mainstone said she refused to disclose the PIN for her mobile phone. But Gavan had made 'sexually explicit' videos of herself. Call data showed contact between Gavan and the inmate.

In a formal disciplinary procedure, Gavan admitted that she had begun the relationship, and kissed Coxon while in the kitchen when he was on cleaning duty, while texts on her phone referring to it were also found.

Gavan's Lawyer Says Her Client had 'Self-Esteem' Issues, was 'Empathetic' Towards Inmates

Gavan's lawyer, Maria Masselis, said her client had 'self-esteem issues' but was particularly empathetic towards inmates during Covid lockdown, when there were no family visits. "She felt ill-equipped to deal with a wing of 80 male prisoners, on occasions on her own for periods of time," she said.

Masselis added that there was "immaturity and an element of naivety" and Gavan felt "manipulated" into believing she was in a relationship with Coxon. She'd expressed love for him and sent images.

The court heard that she acted 'entirely out of character' and was genuinely remorseful. However, Judge Parry ruled that an immediate custodial sentence was justified.

"Courts must make it clear that prison officers who misconduct themselves must face custody for very good reason," Judge Parry said. "Inappropriate relationships and presence of phones in prison undermines the safety of staff and prisoners. When that potential impact is facilitated by a prison officer, the breach of trust is significant."