A female prison officer who "fell in love" with a male inmate and had his baby has been jailed for ten months.
Lucy Thornton, 28, developed ‘mutual feelings’ for Aaron Whittaker, 31, while working at HMP Altcourse, a court heard.
She went on to have a child with Whittaker – who was serving time for wounding –when he was released on parole, Liverpool Crown Court heard on Friday.
Thornton admitted two counts of misconduct in a public office for inappropriate relationships with Whittaker and his brother and Haden, 28, who had been locked up for wounding and burglary.
Simon Duncan, prosecuting, said there had been hundreds of calls and text messages between Thornton, of Warrington, and the two prisoners while they were inside.
He said intelligence of inappropriate relationships involving Thornton first emerged in March and April 2019.
But when interviewed by the prison's security governor Mark Jones, Thornton denied anything untoward.
On the same day as her interview in May 2019, Aaron Whittaker's cell was searched and a piece of paper with the name "Lucy" and her phone number was discovered.
Later searches uncovered mini mobile phones in the cells of both Haden and Aaron, who was later transferred to HMP Oakwood in Wolverhampton.
In June 2019, Thornton was suspended from her job after a “play fight” between her and another inmate in which officers witnessed her rolling around on the floor.
She was arrested the following month, with a phone recovered from her home having Aaron Whittaker's contact stored as “my baby”.
After he was transferred away from Altcourse, he contacted Thornton on the prison phone system – referring to her as Lisa Williams – as well as using a prison email system.
She transferred £200 into a bank account to settle a drug debt for him after discovering he had been threatened, the court heard.
Under interview, Thornton said she and Aaron Whittaker had developed mutual feelings in February 2019 and he gave her his number so she could call him when she was off-duty.
She said she contacted Haden Whittaker as a friend and was also in touch with their mum.
Mr Duncan said there was no evidence of sexual activity in the prison, but when Aaron Whittaker was released in November 2019 the pair ‘got together’ – and she gave birth to their son last year.
She told police they are no longer in a relationship.
Anthony O'Donohoe, defending, said: "Her explanation is she fell in love with the wrong person in the wrong place, and I suppose in the tides of men and women these things can happen – inappropriate and totally wrong though they are."
Sentencing, judge Neil Flewitt accepted that an immediate custodial sentence would significantly impact her 10-month-old son.
But he said her punishment should act as a deterrent to other prison officers who may be ‘tempted to betray the trust placed in them’ and criminals who ‘might seek to exploit them’.
He added: "I regret to say, I am satisfied in this case that the appropriate punishment can only be achieved by the imposition of an immediate custodial sentence."
Thornton was jailed for ten months.