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Friday, September 17, 1999 Published at 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK

UK: Scotland

Grandmother used child to smuggle drugs

The grandmother and child were visiting Cornton Vale prison

A grandmother who smuggled drugs into a prison in a three-year-old girl's clothing has been placed on probation.

Mary Mulholland, 41, was caught with four bags of heroin worth a total of 400 while taking a child to visit an inmate at Cornton Vale women's prison.

Prison officers were warned that Mulholland, from Cranhill in Glasgow, would try to smuggle the drugs in during a Christmas party on 11 December 1997.

[ image: Heroin worth 400 was discovered]
Heroin worth 400 was discovered
The visit ended with Mulholland being arrested and strip searched by a woman police constable.

Passing sentence at Stirling Sheriff Court, Sheriff Alexander Eccles said he had taken into account Mulholland's troubled past.

But he warned that 18 months' probation and an order to perform 180 hours community service were "not a soft option".

The court heard that Mulholland had three children with learning difficulties, another in care and a fifth had died as a baby.

Mulholland's lawyer said she was pressured into committing the offence on behalf of the drug-addicted inmate she was due to visit.

Karina Duffy, prosecuting, said Mulholland and the child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had arrived late for the prison visit and Mulholland appeared to be under the influence of some substance.

Miss Duffy said: "The child became unco-operative during the course of the search.

'Kicking and squirming'

"When the female officer was removing her leggings the child was shouting, screaming, kicking and squirming.

"The officer stood back to allow the accused to assist with the search.

"When the accused was apparently sorting the child's clothes the child kicked out and a package wrapped in cling film fell out."

Miss Duffy said the package contained four "score bags" of heroin, worth up to 100 each at jail prices.

Mulholland admitted being concerned in the supply of the class A controlled drug at the prison by concealing it on the child, who was then aged three and was under her care.

Breaking bail

She also admitted twice breaking bail by failing to turn up for earlier hearings.

The court heard she had since spent four months waiting on remand and had one previous conviction for theft and attempt to pervert the course of justice in 1995.

Solicitor-advocate George Pollock, defending, said Mulholland had been approached by the inmate's boyfriend and asked to take the drugs into the jail.

He said: "She was badgered to go along with the plan, and she ultimately, reluctantly, and to her eternal regret, agreed. Her life is now in ruins."

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