Brighton family accused of running prison drugs ring

Posted On 09 Jan 2019 at 5:53 pm

Four members of a Brighton family have appeared in court accused of running a prison drugs ring.

Lewis Swaysland, his mother Terena Swaysland, his sister Staycie Swaysland and his uncle Simon Nihill all denied charges relating to selling the drug known as spice to inmates at Lewes Prison.

A jury at Hove Crown Court was told that the Nihill and Staycie Swaysland were caught trying to smuggle spice into the prison inside two Malteser packets.

Nicola Shannon, prosecuting, said that Lewis Swaysland was in Lewes Prison, serving a lengthy sentence, and “while a prisoner he ran a business within the prison using mobile telephones in order to supply other prisoners with a drug called spice”.

Miss Shannon said: “The material that we are going to talk about is shredded tobacco which had been impregnated with spice.”

It was hidden in two fake packets of Maltesers which were on a tray with two genuine packets but which “looked a bit odd (and) felt soft and spongey, not nobbly as you might expect”.

Former prison officer Ian Lawrence, 53, now a customs officer, was helping to supervise visits on Friday 17 June 2016 when Nihill gave him a tray of snacks for Lewis Swaysland.

It was a “closed visit”, with Swaysland in a different room and behind a glass screen to separate him physically from his visitors.

Mr Lawrence said that the tray contained “four bags of Maltesers, a couple of bags of crisps, a Twix bar and a can of fizzy drink”.

He said: “Straight away I could see two of the bags were a little bit shrivelled. (They) looked like they’d been handled a lot. They felt a bit spongey – not solid like I would expect Maltesers to feel … They felt manky.”

He checked whether Nihill and Staycie Swaysland had bought any sweets from the canteen servery, which was staffed by prisoners. He was told that they had.

Another former senior prison officer Paul Halliwell, 40, carefully unsealed one end of the packet and saw that the contents were not Maltesers.

The pair contacted the prison security team to call the police.

Mr Lawrence said: “Mr Swaysland was becoming quite visibly upset and was becoming verbally abusive. He was making some quite audible threats.”

He said: “If you don’t give me those fucking sweets, I’ll kick off.”

Near by, in another room, Mr Lawrence said that Staycie Swaysland tried to leave with some other visitors.

When Mr Halliwell barred her way, Nihill and Staycie Swaysland shouted at him and she asked: “Are you keeping me hostage?”

Mr Lawrence told the pair that there were concerns about two packets of Maltesers and “the pair seemed to accept that” and remained in the room.

Lewes Prison

Lewis Swaysland, 36, of High Down Prison, denies three charges of using a mobile phone in prison and, from 2011 to 2016, converting goods into £69,000 cash.

Terena Swaysland, 57, of Medmerry Hill, Higher Bevendean, also denies converting goods into £69,000 cash and smuggling a mobile phone into the prison for her son.

Simon Nihill, 53, of North Road, Brighton, denies having 22.8 grams of spice with intent to supply.

Staycie Swaysland, 28, also of Medmerry Hill, denies having spice with intent to supply. She was ruled unfit to stand trial but the jury has been asked to reach a verdict on whether she did what the prosecution alleges.

The trial continues.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Fascinating! Keep us posted. Next thing they will be smuggling in boxes of Old Spice with real Maltesers inside.

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