Prison officer, 32, and the convicted murderer she married are jailed (2024)

A female prison officer has been jailed for more than four years for having an affair with a convicted murderer who she went on to marry.

Stephanie Heaps, 32, also worked as a police officer, but quit her job so she could continue dating Layten Ramsden.

The pair kissed in the dock as they were jailed at Bolton Crown Court today.

A judge was told their relationship in prison was an 'exceptional love story' and they planned on having a family together one day.

Ramsden, 35, was serving a life sentence for the brutal pub stabbing of a father-of-three when he 'pursued' Heaps after she started working at HMP Wymott, in Leyland, Lancs, in 2018.

Prison officer Stephanie Heaps, pictured with jailed murderer Layten Ramsden, who she met while working atHMP Wymott, in Leyland, Lancashire, on their wedding day

The pair have now been jailed, after Heaps helpedRamsden organise money laundering and the burglary of her ex's home from behind bars

Layten Ramsden, who also goes by the name Leon, was originally jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years for the 'unprovoked' murder of Paul Gilligan, 31, at a packed Bolton pub in July 2008

The court heard how the 'intelligent' prison officer, a former RAF cadet who has a degree in forensic psychology and criminal justice, helped Ramsden organise money laundering and the burglary of her ex's home from behind bars.

Lisa Hancox, prosecuting, said Heaps was 'proud of the perks' that came with their relationship and enjoyed cash, gifts and 'protection' from his criminal gang.

In return, she passed on sensitive police and prison intelligence to Ramsden, who ran a drug dealing operation from his cell.

Jailing Heaps for four years and three months, Judge Jon Close said psychological assessments showed Heaps had been 'fundamentally unsuited' to work for the prison service and police and had been guilty of a 'significant breach of trust.'

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'Your receipt of money can best be described as enjoying the benefits of someone's criminality,' the judge said.

Although he insisted her motivation was 'not financial but emotional.'

Ramsden was jailed for five years and seven months and the pair kissed in the dock before they were sent down.

Ms Hancox said the couple first met at HMP Wymott, where Ramsden was a prisoner, six years ago.

He had access to a mobile phone and the pair would speak almost every day, regularly telling each other, 'I love you,' the barrister said.

During one phone call, Ramsden asked Heaps whether their relationship 'was all worth it' and she replied: 'A billion per cent.'

The pair had sex at least twice while she was a prison officer, the court heard, and were later spotted kissing and cuddling when she visited him at HMP Ranby, in Nottinghamshire, after he was transferred.

Heaps warned Ramsden to keep his mobile phone hidden and passed on information about prison searches, the court heard.

After leaving the prison service, she joined Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in July 2019 - failing to mention her relationship with Ramsden on the vetting form - but continued to pass on information to her lover.

This included details from police briefings, Ms Hancox said, and information about 'police intelligence, police tactics and advice on how to avoid police detection.'

She informed Ramsden that an associate had been mentioned in police intelligence and told him about 22 police officers allegedly involved in 'handling counterfeit.'

Heaps also met up with a man who had visited Ramsden in prison and was wanted over a 'high-risk' domestic violence incident, but failed to notify her superiors.

Ramsden, 35, was serving a life sentence for the brutal pub stabbing of a father-of-three when he 'pursued' Heaps after she started working at HMP Wymott, in Leyland, Lancs, in 2018

The pair had sex at least twice while she was a prison officer, the court heard, and were later spotted kissing and cuddling when she visited him at HMP Ranby, in Nottinghamshire, after he was transferred

The court heard how she discussed marrying Ramsden on his release with her mother, and talked about how the couple wanted the head of an organised criminal gang, who had committed a murder, as one of their groomsmen.

She also planned to 'disguise' a lump sum in cash given to her by the OCG boss as a 'gift' from her parents.

Heaps quit GMP in 2022 and married Ramsden early last year during a prison visit.

The court heard how Heaps conspired with Ramsden and two others, Phillip Markland, 40, described as Ramsden's 'deputy', and Thomas Barrass, 28, to burgle the home of her drug-dealer ex in St Helens, Merseyside.

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She acted as her lover's 'account manager' and took part in 'layering' - a process of laundering cash through multiple bank accounts - for Ramsden along with others, including his father Lee Ramsden.

In return, Ramsden, who made his money by selling cannabis to fellow inmates, lavished her with gifts, including an Apple iWatch, a kitchen renovation and cash for a trip to Iceland.

In total, he made £12,700 from his prison drug-dealing, and passed £3,000 onto her.

Heaps, of Runcorn, pleaded guilty to two counts of misconduct in public office at an earlier hearing.

She also admitted speaking to Ramsden on an illegal mobile phone, conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to launder money.

Laura Nash, defending Heaps, said she struggled with her mental health and claimed Ramsden had 'pursued' her.

Ms Nash described Heaps as 'vulnerable' with 'low self-esteem' and someone who sought a 'stable and loving relationship.'

Layten Ramsden pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to launder money, three counts of possessing a mobile phone in prison, and supplying cannabis inside jail.

David Pojur, defending, said Ramsden had 'positively engaged' with the prison environment and undertaken education courses, including a degree in sport and fitness.

He described Ramden's relationship with Heaps as a 'love story' that was 'exceptional and unusual', saying the couple planned to have a family together one day.

The pair were seen kissing in the dock as they were jailed at Bolton Crown Court today

The court heard how Heaps quit Greater Manchester Police in 2022 and married Ramsden early last year during a prison visit

Markland and Barrass, both of Bolton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary at an earlier hearing.

Lee Ramsden, 52, his partner Joanne Campbell, 48, and Clifford McCarthy, 35, all of Bolton, admitted a charge of conspiracy to launder money, with Campbell also pleading guilty to intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an either way offence.

Markland was jailed for 22 months, while Lee Ramsden was handed a 15-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 25 rehabilitation days.

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McCarthy was also handed a 15-month sentence, suspended for two years, along with a community order for 22 hours of unpaid work, and Campbell was given a 30-month sentence, also suspended for two years.

Barrass will be sentenced on Friday.

Layten Ramsden, who also goes by the name Leon, was originally jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years for the 'unprovoked' murder of Paul Gilligan, 31, at a packed Bolton pub in July 2008.

The pair had been involved in a 'friendly tussle' before the fatal attack, but Ramsden, who had been on a three-day drink and drugs binge, had felt 'humiliated' and stabbed Mr Gilligan twice, with one wound piercing his heart.

Just hours earlier, he had written on his Facebook page: 'I'm twisted at home...feel like killin some1.'

Detective Chief Inspector Jennifer Adams, of GMP's Anti-Corruption Unit, said: 'During our investigation, we were shocked by the actions of Stephanie Heaps and her brazen disregard for the standards required for both her roles in the police and the prison service.

'It's clear Heaps should never be trusted to serve the public, and it is testament to the investigation team that she was only in uniform for a matter of months before she was taken away from frontline duties for good and now put rightly behind bars along with Ramsden and his associates.'

Alan Richardson, senior prosecutor, said: 'Stephanie Heaps was in a position of trust both as a prison officer and later a police officer.

'She knew that her actions created a serious conflict of interest and entirely compromised the trusted positions she held.

'Heaps will now face the consequences of her actions.'

Prison officer, 32, and the convicted murderer she married are jailed (2024)
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