AN INMATE called his girlfriend on a mobile phone to see if they still had a future once he was released - and attempted to bite a prison officer's arm while trying to hide it, a court heard.

Julian Tavernier, aged 41, was a serving prisoner at HMP Guys Marsh in Shaftesbury when he was sat in his cell on March 13, 2020.

Prosecuting, Andrew Newman, told Weymouth Magistrates Court how a patrolling prison officer heard Tavernier ‘talking to someone in his cell’.

He continued: “The cell door was open ajar, and they looked in and saw him on the phone.

“The prison officer used his radio to call for back up and they entered the cell to tell him to let go the phone.

“Mr Tavernier tried to ‘plug the phone’ and hide it. He also attempted to bite an officer's arm."

While resisting prison officers, Tavernier tried to stop them from getting the phone. Tavernier was removed from his cell and an officer arrived to retrieve the mobile phone.

Tavernier, of Kingsbridge Crescent in London, pleaded guilty to the possession of a mobile phone and charger within a prison.

The court heard how the case has been delayed multiple times with excuses being given as Tavernier experiencing back pain and self-isolating at least twice due to coronavirus.

Mitigating, Mr Price, said that Tavernier did not ‘maliciously’ use the mobile phone, but revealed he was simply contacting his girlfriend.

Mr Price said: “There is nothing in the papers that police have analysed that phone that Tavernier has ever used it and if that number has ever been rung by that phone or the recipient of the message.

“He said he called a girlfriend to see she is ‘on side’ - meaning asking her if they had a future after he was released from prison.”

Mr Price added: “You have no evidence that he’s brought it in, used before that day or used it for an aggravated purpose.”

Mr Price said that Tavernier had not reoffended since he was released from prison 11 months ago and is expecting a baby with his girlfriend. He added that Tavernier is also living in temporary accommodation and claiming Personal Independence Payment.

Before sentencing, Chair of Magistrates, Stephen Cowley, said: “You have pleaded guilty to possession of a mobile phone in prison.

“There is very little additional information around that offence but possession of a mobile phone in prison is a serious offence.”

Mr Cowley issued Tavernier a two-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay a £122 victim surcharge.


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