Prisoner officers suspended over sex with inmates

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The Independent Online

Five prison officers at one of Northern Ireland's top-security jails have been suspended after claims they had sex with inmates, it emerged yesterday.

Five prison officers at one of Northern Ireland's top-security jails have been suspended after claims they had sex with inmates, it emerged yesterday.

Four male officers at Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim are said to have had sex with two women, one a former prostitute, who were serving sentences for murdering their husbands. The other, a woman warder, was accused of having sex with a former Loyalist Volunteer Force paramilitary boss.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Prison Service confirmed that a number of officers were to be subjected to an official investigation into "alleged inappropriate behaviour in Mourne House" at the prison.

The independent investigation, which is being led by one of Northern Ireland's top retired detectives, is expected to last several months.

The Prison Service said it would not comment on individual personnel matters. However, a spokesman added: "They (the prison officers) received letters last week that the Prison Service is minded to dismiss them but they have the opportunity to make representations before any final decisions are made."

One prison officer was suspended over a suspected affair with Lesley Gault, 36, nicknamed the "Black Widow", it was reported last month.

The relationship was uncovered after love letters, underwear, stockings and a mobile phone were found in the married senior prison officer's locker.

Gault, who has triplets, was convicted in March 2003 after being found guilty of conspiring with her fireman lover, Gordon Graham, to murder her husband, Paul. The latter was found battered to death with a hockey stick at his home in Lisburn.

She is known to associate at the prison with two other female inmates who killed their husbands, Julie McGinley, who murdered husband Gerry with the help of her boyfriend, Michael Monaghan, around June 2001, and Karen Murdock, who stabbed her husband, Joe McDonnell, to death.

A female officer was suspended last October over alleged links outside the prison to the Loyalist Volunteer Force leader, Billy King, and one of his associates, a notorious drug dealer.

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