Bury woman who harboured escaped prisoner receives suspended sentence

Ipswich Crown Court
Ipswich Crown Court

A young woman from Bury St Edmunds who harboured an escaped prisoner has avoided being locked up immediately.

Amy Hart, 20, who appeared today at Ipswich Crown Court was described as ‘naive and vulnerable’.

Hart sheltered Stuart Guildea for 10 days at her home, in Northumberland Avenue, after he walked out of Hollesley Bay open prison last year.

Guildea, who had been serving seven and a half years for robbery, disappeared from the jail on October 12.

The court heard that police discovered a mobile phone owned by Hart had been used by Guildea since his escape and pictures of him together with Hart were posted on social media.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said a police officer visited Hart’s home on October 31 and made it clear that harbouring an escaped prisoner was a serious offence.

Ten days later, police returned to the house and while talking with Hart were met by Guildea who said: “Look guys, I give up.”

Mr Crimp said Hart was arrested and during an interview handed over a written statement and later pleaded guilty during her first court appearance to harbouring an escaped prisoner.

Guildea subsequently had three months added to his prison sentence when he appeared in court in December last year.

Mr Crimp said examination of Hart’s phone by police revealed pictures of her and Guildea together.

Hart said Guildea used her phone when they met at a pub in Bury St Edmunds before she realised he had escaped.

Appearing for Hart, Stephen Spence said she had no previous convictions and was highly regarded in her work as a carer.

Mr Spence said: “She is a somewhat naive, vulnerable young woman who was taken advantage of by the escaped prisoner.”

Hart had only known Guildea since he was imprisoned and when he was lonely and wanted someone to talk to, said Mr Spence.

Mr Spence added that she was ‘under his (Guildea’s) spell’ and bitterly regretted what she had done.

Judge John Devaux sentenced Hart to six months custody in a Young Offenders Institution suspended for 18 months and ordered her to complete 100 hours of unpaid community work.