A prison guard turned police officer and former cadet helped a convict, she has since married, organise money laundering and a burglary from his jail cell.

Stephanie Heaps, 32, worked first as a prison officer from March 2018 to July 2019 and then as a police officer in the Bolton district up to her arrest and resignation in early 2020.

Bolton Crown Court heard how during that time she committed a range of crimes alongside her prisoner partner Leon Ramsden, 35 also known as Leyton, who was jailed for 17 years in 2010.

Prosecutor Lisa Hancox said: “During her employment as a prison officer Ms Heaps commenced and continued a relationship with Leon Ramsden.”

She added: “Their relationship extended to when she left the prison service in July 2019 and became a police officer days later.”

Ms Hancox told the court how while in prison Ramsden had access to a mobile phone, which he used to message Heaps.

When she joined Greater Manchester Police, Heaps specifically asked to be based in the Bolton area, to be near Ramsden’s family.

Stephanie Heaps served first as a prison officer and then as a police officerStephanie Heaps served first as a prison officer and then as a police officer (Image: Public)

In turn, Ramsden asked to be transferred from HMP Wymott to HMP Ranby in Nottinghamshire.

In a call to Ramsden in January 2020, Heaps said: “I chose to buy a house close to you, I chose that.

“I chose Bolton as my police force because I wanted to be near your home, I chose, you didn’t tell me.”

Ramsden continued to call Heaps when she was on duty as a police officer, at one point asking her if it was worth it, to which she replied: “a billion per cent.”

Ms Hancox told the court how Heaps had advised Ramsden on how to keep his phone hidden in the prison and how she knew he also had “blocks of cannabis up there.”

At one point in January 2020, Ramsden asked Heaps for details on a fellow female prison officer who some of the inmates wanted to “hurt.”

Heaps said she could not get the details, but admitted in a call that she had passed on details about other prison officers.

The case was heard at Bolton Crown CourtThe case was heard at Bolton Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Hancox said that throughout this time, Heaps was apparently proud of the status and “perks” that her relationship with Ramsden brought her.

But in a call to him, she said: “I’m not corrupt I know you say I am."

In one of the most serious incidents involved in her relationship with Ramsden, Heaps passed on details about a former partner who she believed to be a drug dealer.

This was because she believed he would have cash in his home in St Helens, for Ramsden to direct his underlings to burgle.

The burglary was organised by Ramsden’s deputy, 40-year-old Philip Markland and his subordinate Thomas Barrass, 28, on November 14 2019.

Though Heaps believed there would have been £60,000 on the kitchen table and a patio window was smashed, nothing appears to have been taken.

But even after the apparent failed burglary, Heaps continued to insist the would-be victim would have money stashed “at his nan’s house.”

During his time at both prisons Ramsden dealt cannabis to his fellow inmates, paying the money into a bank account belonging to his father, 53-year-old Lee Ramsden.

Leon Ramsden, also known as Leyton, with Stephanie HeapsLeon Ramsden, also known as Leyton, with Stephanie Heaps (Image: Public)

Over time, the younger Ramsden decided that his father could not be trusted and instead his preferred recipients became Clifford McCarthy, 35 and then Joanne Campbell, 47.

Ramsden accepted that he had made around £12,700 in criminal property around this time and would give instructions on his illicit mobile phone about how this should be spent.

This included on gifts for his partner Heaps.

But the entire conspiracy unravelled when Ramsden’s cell was searched on January 13 2020 and the illicit phone was found, while that same day Heaps was arrested as she arrived at work.

All of them gave no comment when interviews by police but pleaded guilty when brought before the courts.

Heaps, of Cheshire, confessed to two counts of misconduct in a public office, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to launder money and encouraging or assisting the commission of an either way offence.

Leon Ramsden, of HMP Parcs, pleaded guilty to two counts on unauthorised use of a mobile phone in prison, money laundering and being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs.

His father Lee, of Bolton, admitted to conspiracy to launder money as did McCarthy, of Bolton.

Campbell, also of Bolton, admitted to conspiracy to launder money and encouraging or assisting an either way offence.

Barrass and Markland, both of Bolton, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

Laura Nash, defending Heaps, said she had earned credit for her guilty pleas and pointed out her lack of previous conviction.

She said that Heaps, who was just 27 when the offences began, was “an educated young woman” who had been a cadet since the age of 13 and had enrolled in the RAF.

Ms Nash said: “She always wanted to be a police officer, all her working and academic life have been towards that goal.”

Patrick Buckley, defending Lee Ramsden, said his client had also earned credit for pleading guilty and that he had not committed further crimes since then.

He said: “The report suggests that he lives today a fairly uneventfully life.”

Mr Buckley said that his crimes were “naïve offending at best.”

Turning to McCarthy, Mr Buckley said that he also deserved credit for pleading guilty and said that he too had avoided further offending.

Bob Sastry, defending Markland, pointed out that his client had pleaded guilty as long ago as October 2022 and that the burglary conspiracy dated back to 2019.

He also said there was “significant difference” between the conspiracy Markland was involved in and the crimes of the other defendants.

Judge Jon Close ruled that he will hear the mitigation for the remaining defendants, Leon Ramsden and Joanne Campbell, and will pass sentence on Thursday July 4.

Barrass will be sentenced the following day on Thursday July 5.