Prison guard, 26, who gave birth to murderer’s baby after affair spared jail

A female prison officer who fell pregnant with a serving convicted murderer’s baby from an affair behind bars has been spared jail.

Kerianne Stephens, 26, was found to have had a sexual relationship with Louis Tate, who is serving a life sentence at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the affair led to Stephens giving birth to a daughter in June 2019, with Tate later confirmed as the child's father.

The pair's relationship was discovered when, during a move to another prison cell, Tate warned another inmate he had left a "six" in his unit.

Warden’s then searched his cell and an iPhone 6 was discovered hidden in a sock on a table.

An investigation revealed calls and text messages between Stephens and Tate, who had spoken as recently as 11 days beforehand.

On the day Stephens was arrested, she admitted she was three months pregnant and suspected 35-year-old Tate to be the father, giving the conception date of September 29.

The affair reportedly occurred between September 1, 2018 and January 8, 2019.

Prosecutor Maria Karaiskos said all telephone communications were made while Stephens, who had been a prison guard for five years, was off-duty.

She told the court: "Her mobile phone showed it had made or received over 50 calls and sent or received over 20 texts with the phone found in Mr Tate's cell between October 14 and October 25 2018.

"There were also numerous attempted calls made and Internet-based calls made. A lot of material had also been deleted.

"In summary, it showed that when she was not working, calls were made from her mobile to the mobile found in Mr Tate's cell."

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Tate, who has 12 previous convictions for 33 offences, initially denied even knowing his lover until he was shown her photograph.

Bethan Rogers, defending Stephens, said her sexual relationship with Tate occurred at a time when she had been "broken down" by a previous abusive partner and said the birth of her child had been a "saving grace."

Ms Rogers said: "She accepts what she did, she knows how wrong it was. In relation to the phone, it's important to remember she didn't bring it into the prison.

"She allowed its use without reporting it but the content of those messages seems entirely to be about their relationship.

"She is a profoundly immature and profoundly foolish woman who has made a big mistake but out of that mistake came something wonderful for her."

Stephens pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office at the category B prison and unauthorised transmission of image or sound by electronic communication.

Tate, who had been handed a minimum 18-year sentence in October 2010 for a hit-and-run murder, also plead guilty to the same communication offence.

Despite the seriousness of the crime, Judge Philip Statman handed Stephens a non-custodial 16-month sentence suspended for two years.

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He told her: "You were trained and aware of your responsibilities and you would have known how important it would be for the rules to be observed and for you to set an example, not just to the prisoners in your care but also in terms of integrity to the officers with whom you served.

"You would have known the importance of boundaries when it came to dealing with those who had committed the gravest of crimes, namely murder.

"There will be those in the community who will look upon you and wonder how it can be that a sexual relationship between you and your co-defendant was able to continue, albeit over a comparatively short period of time, and leading to the birth of your child."

Judge Statman jailed Stephens for 10 months, to be served concurrently with his life sentence.

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