Lewes Prison drug smuggling ring hid Spice inside packs of Maltesers, court hears

Members of a family ran an audacious scheme to smuggle drugs into Lewes Prison and hid spice in packs of Maltesers sweets, prosecutors say.

Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 4:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 3:02 pm
Two members of the family are accused of attempting to bring the illegal drug spice into Lewes Prison concealed in Maltesers packets (stock image)

Hove Crown court heard that serving prisoner Lewis Swaysland ran an illicit business from behind bars selling the so-called ‘legal high’ drug spice to fellow inmates.

Prisoners at HMP Lewes would get friends and relatives to send money to Lewis’s mother Terena Swaysland, the prosecution said. Drugs would then be smuggled to Lewis for distribution inside the prison, Hove Crown Court heard this morning.

Prosecutor Nicola Shannon described the scheme, which was discovered in June 2016, as a ‘family business’.

Two members of the family are accused of attempting to bring the illegal drug spice into Lewes Prison concealed in Maltesers packets (stock image)

Lewis Swaysland, 36, denies three charges of transmitting information from inside a prison, as well as one charge of concealing criminal property, namely £69,353.57.

His mother Terena Swaysland, 57, of Medmerry Hill in Brighton, denies charges of conveying a mobile phone into Lewes Prison and of concealing criminal property, namely £69,353.57.

His uncle Simon Nihill, 53, of North Road in Brighton, denies a single charge of possessing a psychoactive substance with intent to supply.

His sister Staycie Swaysland, 28, of Medmerry Hill in Brighton was deemed unfit to stand trial. However she had been deemed fit to plead to a charge of supplying a psychoactive substance and the trial will examine if she was responsible for that offence, but not whether she was guilty of breaking the law.

Lewes Prison holds up to 692 male prisoners

Opening the case, prosecutor Nicola Shannon said: “At the time we are concerned with Lewis Swaysland was a prisoner held at HMP Lewes. He had a lengthy sentence to serve.

“Whilst a prisoner he ran a business within the prison using mobile telephones in order to supply other prisoners with a drug called spice.”

Spice – one of the former ‘legal highs’ no banned in the UK – is a synthetic cannabis substitute that is popular in prisons.

The court heard that it was on June 17, 2016 that prison officers first realised something was wrong.

Visitors to the prison are searched on arrival, but drug sniffer dogs have not always been able to detect spice, the court heard

Lewis’ sister Staycie and his uncle Simon arrived at Lewes Prison and made their way to the canteen shop in the visitors area.

Miss Shannon continued: “On this occasion Simon and Staycie used that tuck shop in order to try and bring about a scheme where they would be able to pass drugs to Lewis.

“They bought a number of items of confectionary, [including] two packets of Maltesers.”

However by the time they brought the tray of drink and sweets to the area where they were to speak to Lewis, there were four packets of Maltesers on the tray, the court heard.

A prison officer thought something was amiss and examined the Maltesers.

“He thought that two of the packets looked a bit odd. They felt a bit odd.

“The felt soft and spongey, not knobbly as you might expect.”

The court heard that when those two packets were opened they contained a herbal material, later identified as spice.

A drugs expert valued the contents at between £912 and £1,140, the court heard.

Staycie and Simon were arrested and Lewis was told that he would not be seeing visitors that day.

The prosecutor said: “He did what officers described as kicking off, shouting that he wanted his sweets.”

She asked the jury if this was a man worried about getting his ‘sugar rush’, or if this was a man who had promised drugs to fellow prisoners that were hidden in the Maltesers packets.

Lewis’ mother Terena Swaysland was found waiting in a car outside the prison and was arrested.

When officers searched the family home in Brighton they found designer items and other evidence of a lifestyle with no clear legitimate income to support it, the court heard.

“An investigation of bank accounts led DC Thompson to believe that over £69,000 had gone through Terena Swaysland’s bank account for which there was no other explanation.”

All defendants deny the charges. The trial continues.