A FEMALE prison officer who had sex with an inmate in his cell also set up a secret phone line to keep in contact with him.

Kate Southern brought in food and vapes for him using his bank card and used it to pay for a hotel room and buy petrol.

A court heard yesterday Monday, June 24, that she sent him a Moonpig birthday card which she signed “your babyface KK”- but their illicit relationship soon came to light and investigations began.

Secret relationship

The intelligence received by HMP Altcourse in Liverpool was confirmed the next month when the prisoner’s girlfriend told the security manager that she had just discovered he was in a relationship with Southern, said Chris Stables, prosecuting.

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She rang Southern who admitted to speaking to the prisoner, identified in court only as “M”, and his girlfriend recorded some of her calls with Southern and forwarded them to the security manager.

Liverpool Crown Court was told that the prison service began monitoring his phone calls and found a landline number had been added to his approved call list, allegedly to a niece, but it was found to belong to the defendant.

Telecommunications enquiries revealed the landline number was set up to route calls to her mobile number.

“Plainly this was done in an effort to try to evade detection,” said Mr Stables.

The prisoner was transferred to HMP Buckley Hall but her calls to him continued.

Intimate phone calls

Mr Stables added: “In summary the content of these calls was often of a sexual nature and intimate.

“In addition, they could be heard discussing their relationship and future plans that they would make together,” said Mr Stables. He suggested she leave her job so they could be together.

On January 5, 2022 she used his bank card to buy food and vape liquid at a nearby Tesco Express and CCTV footage showed her taking the shopping into his cell and leaving without it seven minutes later.

Based on comments in subsequent phone calls “it is the Crown’s case that there was direct sexual activity involving the defendant and M whilst the defendant was within his cell on this occasion,” said Mr Stables.

“During one call on January 8, 2022, there is clear reference to sexual contact - digital penetration and oral sex -having taken place.”

Mr Stables said she had written M letters and she sent him two virtually identical birthday cards, the second paid for by him, with the first sent to Altcourse and the other to HMP Buckley Hall where he had just been transferred to.

Following that Southern, now 26, facilitated a three-way telephone call with a florist and M ordered flowers for her. M, who kept asking his family for money, also used his card for Southern to stay overnight at a Premier Inn in Manchester.

She was suspended on January 19, 2022 and resigned the next day.

She continued to have regular contact with M and his mum in three-way calls until the end of the following month.


Officers from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit’s prison anti-corruption unit arrested her on May 25 that year and when quizzed the defendant denied any involvement in a relationship with M and also denied taking prohibited articles into the prison.

Southern, who joined the prison services in August 2019 and underwent training, went on to admit “a relationship of sorts” with M and perceived she would come to harm if she did not continue it.

Mr Stables said that M, who is serving a lengthy custodial sentence, is awaiting a prison hearing but the CPS decided not to prosecute him.

Southern, of Bishop Drive, Whiston, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office between December 22, 2021and January 20, 2022.

Philip Tully, defending, said that at the time she committed the offence “she was at a very low point in her life having just left an abusive and controlling relationship.

“It is clear there was an element of manipulation by a serving prisoner who exploited her inexperience and naivety to get her to engage in the conduct she did.

“He made it clear to her that this was a proper relationship he wanted to embark on with her and she felt flattered and he made it clear he was a man of means and wanted a relationship with her once he had been released from prison.

“She is both ashamed and embarrassed about the conduct she was involved in.

Mr Tully said that it had been a short lived offence and there has been a long delay since which has affected her mental health and well being.

“She is now involved in a settled relationship with a loving partner.”

He added that she found a new job but lost it as she had to tell them about this offence.


Sentencing her to 16 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months Judge David Potter said that she had breached the trust that the public expect in prison officers to engage in an inappropriate relationship with a serving prisoner “during which you engaged at least one in actual sexual activity while that prisoner was in his cell.”

He told her, “I accept however that you were to an extent a vulnerable person having just come of an abusive relationship and were clearly in a vulnerable state and in a position to be exploited by a serving prisoner.

“Nevertheless you had received a copious amount of training and experience in the job and it must have been clear from the get-go what you were engaging in was completely wrong.”

Judge Potter said that her behaviour had not put operational prison matters at risk “Nevertheless it was a significant breach of trust that the public reposes in prison officers.”

He added that it was so serious there had to be a custodial sentence but said there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and suspended the term.

He also ordered her to carry out 125 hours of unpaid work and 15 days rehabilitation activities.