Tayside and Central Scotland

Castle Huntly prison officer Christine Robertson jailed for harbouring inmate

Christine Robertson
Image caption Christine Robertson was found with James Holland at her flat in Monifieth

A prison officer who harboured an inmate after he absconded from an open prison has been jailed.

Christine Robertson, 45, had been found guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court of aiding and abetting James Holland.

He was found at her flat in Monifieth, Angus, on 16 March last year, a day after running away from Castle Huntly prison.

Jailing Robertson for 18 months, Sheriff Tom Hughes said her conduct was inexcusable and a breach of trust.

During the six-day trial, the court heard that Holland had walked out of the jail, near Dundee, at about 20:00.

Police found intelligence that suggested Holland was at Robertson's home and at 06:25 the following morning a team of 10 riot and firearms officers burst into her flat.

They found the pair naked together in bed - the prison officer under the covers and Holland crouching on the bed holding a kitchen knife.

Holland, who has previous convictions for hostage taking, assault and robbery, waved the knife at the officers, forcing them to shoot him with a stun gun.

Police investigating the case found a stash of letters sent by Holland to Robertson in a bedside table in her flat, as well as messages on her phone.

One of the messages said: "One thing I so love about you is your eyes. You've got the nicest eyes I've ever seen. Don't get cheeky now or I'll have to take you hostage and spank your peachy wee bum."

A card found in the room read: "Your honey monster is madly in love with you," continuing: "This time next year we will be together aww bless xxx."

When interviewed by police Robertson refused to answer questions, saying only: "No comment."

Blew kisses

Robertson claimed Holland had coerced her, but the jury rejected the story.

Robertson was sacked by the Scottish Prison Service in January.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Tom Hughes told her: "This is a serious crime - it involved a gross breach of trust to the community, your colleagues and the service you worked for.

"You were involved in completely inappropriate communications with a person who you knew to be of a violent disposition.

"The local community are concerned by the number of people who escape from establishments such as Castle Huntly and the public should have confidence that dangerous persons such as Mr Holland do not escape and serve the sentence appropriate.

"Because of your actions you aided and abetted his absconding and your conduct was inexcusable."

Robertson blew kisses and waved at family members on the public benches as she was led to the cells, and said "thanks" to them through the glass-backed dock.

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