Friday, 21 February 2014

Curtis Warren’s Alleged Affair: Testing the Evidence

"In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Teresa Rodrigues, a former senior manager at La Moye who ran the drugs and alcohol counselling unit, confesses to an affair with the barrel-chested gangster...She claims it lasted two years and only ended when he was convicted of drugs smuggling and transferred to a prison on the mainland. 'We had sex in his little cell most days,' says Lisbon-born Ms Rodrigues. 'Yes, it was insane but I was in love like never before, and I still am." (1)

Curtis Warren denies the affair, and his lawyer has made comments on flaws in the story:

"So far as having sex or whatever – Curtis says the security in La Moye was much stricter than Belmarsh. He was regarded as extremely high risk. To say a non-prison officer could go into a cell and spend the afternoon   there without [someone] checking where she was is nonsense." Warren was pictured in a Sunday newspaper alongside Ms Rodrigues in a prison cell. Mr Barraclough said: "The implication is that's his cell (in the picture with Ms Rodrigues)."It's one of the cells of someone he knows. The picture was taken for a drugs campaign. The t-shirt he is wearing is an anti-drugs campaign t-shirt he wore straight out of the packet. "All you get on Curtis Warren's walls are charts of the case and hundreds of case files. His room is like a lawyer's chambers." (2)

So what is the truth of the matter, and are there ways in which we can test the evidence, just as we might do with any historical story. At present, there are no independent witnesses who have come forward to corroborate the story, so what we must do is to look at the prison regime and security in general, and any past breaches of security.

Also we have at present no corroboration as to what the inside of Mr Warren's cell looked like, but if it transpires that the photograph was for a drugs campaign, and not taken in his cell, that would weaken the strength of the Mail's story.

The Background on Teresa Rodrigues

Going by Ian Le Marquand's replies, there was a degree of slackness in checking Teresa Rodrigues as she was already well known from her work with drug rehabilitation. That doesn't mean that she had no experience or qualifications, just that the relevant background checks had not been made. In fact, as can be seen, her CV certainly indicated that a degree of confidence could be placed in her work:

Nov. 2001 – Jun. 2003:  Jersey Addiction Group, Jersey, Channel Islands. Job Title: Programme Director - Addictions Counsellor

Main Duties:  Managing a caseload of clients counselling, designing and presenting educational programmes to various bodies, liaising and networking with other agencies and opening a new Rehabilitation Centre in Jersey. Working within the Prison La Moye, on one to one counselling sessions and courses to inmates on Anger Management, Life Skills and Relapse Prevention

July, 2003  -  2005  I have been self-employed and provide my services to different agencies, including the Children Services, Drug and Alcohol Services, GP's or other professional referral agencies, and 40 hours per week as Manager of the Drug and Alcohol Department at H.M. Prison La Moye.

Jan 2005 - Sept 2010 As Manager of the Drug and Alcohol Department at HMP La Moye I have set up the Drug and Alcohol Counselling Team. During this time I was also a Senior Manager at HMP La Moye and part of the Prison Management.  (3)

So she was already well known at La Moye when she took up full time work there. Her CV, however, only has UK courses attended on counselling, and her training and qualifications were in social sciences and management, with only theoretical courses on addictions completed, and as far as I can see no accredited counselling qualifications. This would confirm the information given in the States about a lack of vetting.

Curtis Warren and the Mobile Phones

One of the prosecution arguments back in 2008/2009 was that Warren had access to mobile phones within La Moye and that those phones made and received 35,000 calls and texts across 41 countries between March 2008 and October 2009 while on remand at La Moye:

"Jersey solicitor general Howard Sharp, QC, said in his opening: "It is very clear that Mr Warren was using these phones and they were in operation from La Moye during his period on remand." (4)

And according to The Independent, this was a covert, illegal use of mobile phones:

"The business is alleged to have continued apace as he awaited trial in Jersey. He made thousands of calls to more than 40 countries on seven mobile phones illicitly brought into the prison, according to the National Crime Agency."(5)

It should be noted that the new Governor took over in March 2008, and the issue of mobile phones arose in an article in the JEP in 2010, and letter by the Governor in reply, relating to the Prison Service's annual report for 2009.

"The JEP chose to focus on the details related to prisoner misconducts and, specifically, prisoners being found to be in possession of a mobile phone. No issue with that provided it is fairly and accurately presented." (11)

In 2010, Ian Le Marquand, in the States, replying to a question noted that:

"In relation to the issue of the unlawful smuggling of phones into the prison, this has been a problem for some time. It has slightly improved in recent times, because of the fact that the outworkers, those who are going outside the prison to work during the day, are now outside the security perimeter. Since that has happened the issue had decreased in importance. But we have been looking for some time at a fairly complex piece of legislation which would enable the blocking of signals from mobile phones into the prison."

Clearly the fight to ensure possession of illicit mobile phones is an ongoing problem, and one that the Prison authorities are aware of. It is an endemic problem that all such institutions are prone to, not just La Moye Prison, and cannot be taken as evidence of slackness on the part of the Prison Governor.

Security at the Prison: The 2005 Report

Although one has to be careful with hearsay, I have a piece of anecdotal evidence from an extremely reliable source, which I have been able to confirm about what the Prison was like, although it should be noted they were not visiting a high profile prisoner:

"I visited the Prison to talk to a prisoner around 2001. If there was not enough room in the main visitors room, this happened twice, we would be taken through to an inside room. There was no prison orderly on hand. Once , I didn't hear the end of 30 minutes time bell until the end of the second session. No one had come to check up on us at all. When I made my way out, no one queried where I had been. I was worried they might think I was an inmate!"

While visitors were searched and had to give ID – electronic scan for metal, and sniffer dogs for drugs etc – monitoring of visitors was clearly not as good as it should have been once they were inside past the checks.

The Inspector's report in 2005 said there were "serious concerns about Security at La Moye"

"Only 105 security information reports (SIRs) had been submitted in 2005 to date. This was a low figure given the level of security concerns in the prison, and reflected a general staff apathy towards such matters.... The level of illicit items entering the prison was very high. Over the previous18 months, over 100 mobile telephones had been found. This statistic, while alarming enough, might understate the problem, as there had been no scheduled searching and little target searching of cells during this period, due to the general shortage of staff"

"Statutory visitors, including a governor, chaplain and medical professional, did not visit all segregated prisoners each day. When they did visit this was not recorded routinely." (6)

"Safety and security are key issues for prisons. La Moye lacked proper first night or induction procedures, and a large proportion of men and women felt unsafe on their first night. Prisoners told us that bullying was a serious problem, yet there were no systems to deal with it, other than to remove victims to a succession of separate areas, including an unstaffed and unsupervised unit which was little more than a collection of cupboards. This was used as an escape route from the vulnerable prisoners' unit, which was itself a location for bullying. Staff supervision of prisoners in some areas was poor, and there was no proper monitoring of incidents, assaults and complaints." (7)

It is notable that Teresa Rodrigues took up her post in 2005, at a time when clearly matters were very bad in general at the Prison. It is entirely possible that at this time statutory visitors could well have been left alone in cells with inmates unsupervised. Anecdotal evidence on Facebook from one former prisoner corroborates this:

"It's changed a hell of a lot you know... I admit back in 2004 when I went in it was like a holiday camp. But by the time I got out in 2010, it was completely different, like a prison should be....I even know of one former officer who's got a few kids with an ex inmate. It's been going on in there for years, things have only changed since Millar turned it into a proper prison"

The New Prison Governor: 2008 onwards

In March 2008, Bill Millar, who had over 30 years of experience in the Scottish Prison Service, took over as   Governor of the Prison. At the end of the year, he reported that "The number of prisoners committing misconduct reports was also very similar [to 2007] but there was an increase in the number of misconducts they committed". This may also have been to do with an improvement in recording misconduct, a weakness of the 2005 inspection.

2011 saw improvements in staff qualifications and courses, and increased educational opportunities for prisoners. The computer network introduced is notable, because it demonstrates that security was conceived to be an integral part of the system:

"Progress has been made with the prisoner education network ('ix system'); this has grown as part of a 3 year project from a very basic collection of 40 individual PCs to become a secure, integrated and centralised network across the Prison, with computers located in association rooms, the library and in most cells. Prisoners access their individual files using a biometric fingerprint reader, so avoiding the potential problems that may arise from password sharing. The principal aim has been to provide a tool that will enhance the educational opportunities for prisoners."

In 2012, the Prison Governor's report showed  252 misconduct reports (several for multiple offences) submitted for contravening prison rules, with 85 adult prisoners involved, (78 male, 7 female) and 8 young offenders, (5 male, 3 female). Of these 9 were referred to the police for investigation. The highest adult offender had 20 misconduct reports. (8) And 100 reports were submitted to the Safer Custody Officer during the year. 23 of these were Bullying Information Reports and 20 were Prison Information Reports. 37 anti-bulling investigations were carried out.

The 2013 Inspection report showed considerable improvements from that of 2005, although the Prison Governor was not complacent, and said that it was "definitely moving in the right direction... There is still much to be done and we will consider the chief inspector's recommendations very carefully, but Jersey now has a Prison Service it can be proud of."

"HM Chief Inspector of Prisons' report describes La Moye Prison as "an institution that had been transformed, both physically and in terms of improved practice" since it was last inspected in 2005. La Moye Prison was inspected by HM Inspectorate of Prisons from 11 to 15 February 2013 following an invitation from the Home Affairs Department." (13)

It should be noted that, in answer to questions, Ian Le Marquand explained that rather than taking place in cells, there was a designated room with CCTV for professionals meeting with prisoners.

Crossing the Boundary: Prison Staff and Prisoners Affairs

Having examined some of the history of Jersey's prison, I would now like to look for comparison of this affair with other affairs involving prison staff or professionals and prisoners. The reason for this is to establish if there is any pattern to look for in other cases, and whether the story recounted in the Daily Mail fits this pattern or not.

From 2014:

Sophia King-Chinnery, an officer at Holloway's women's prison, north London, enjoyed a relationship with murderer Sarah Anderson for 14 months. Anderson, 31, was ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years in March 2009 after she was convicted of knifing cyclist Dee Willis, 28, in the neck in Peckham, south east London.  The lovers exchanged hundreds of letters, in which Anderson referred to King-Chinnery as her "wife".  Despite bosses' warnings to stay away from the prisoner, King-Chinnery , 25, continued the illicit relationship. Southwark Crown Court heard how the prison officer allowed Anderson to have a mobile phone between January and September 2012 so that the pair could spend hours chatting. (14)

From 2013

A Lexington prison employee was arrested Wednesday, accused of having an affair with an inmate. According to arrest documents, Officer Jennifer Wiseman, 37, was charged Wednesday afternoon with Official Misconduct, and Rape, for her actions inside the Blackburn Correctional Complex on Spurr Road in   Lexington. The investigation began when one inmate reported seeing Wiseman take another inmate into a women's bathroom. Acting on that tip, police they say they uncovered sexually explicit phone calls and letters, and an alleged sexual relationship the two had inside the prison. (15)

A female prison officer has confessed in court to an "inappropriate relationship" with a male convict. Abbie Levens, 31, said no sex was involved, but the CPS refused to believe her. Now intimate letters she wrote to Sherome Blair will be read out at a special trial of issue next month. (16)

A PRISON officer who had an affair with an inmate has been jailed. Married mum Kelly Jean Needham, 37,   was working as a prison guard at Hull Prison when she struck up a relationship with serial robber Martin Gower, 27.She was caught after suspicious guards taped intimate phone conversations between the pair. Although a married mum-of-two, she sent him love letters and smuggled a mobile phone top-up card out of the prison for him. (17)

This is a small sample of those I have perused (over 100 cases)  but one thing which seems to be a common pattern in all these cases is what I call the "paper trail". The person having the affair is desperate to keep in contact, often by mobile phone, but in most cases also by sending love letters. It should be noted that these are not love affairs at a distance from lonely people (who might also send letters), but physically intimate affairs.


The Prison Regime before the advent of Bill Millar in 2008 was much slacker with less trained prison officers and poorer security and surveillance of prisoners than was the case after reforms began under Millar, although illicit mobile phones remain a problem even today, and Curtis Warren appears to have used illicit phones during his time on remand.

Teresa Rodrigues appears to have left in September 2010. It is not clear what prompted her departure, or her change of the kind of employment, and it would be interesting to know why she left, and why she decided to leave the career path in which she had assiduously trained for many years. If there had been an unproven suspicion of misconduct, might this have led to her departure, and what references did she receive on her departure? But it is also possible that her style of work was more in keeping with the old regime criticised in 2005, and she found it difficult to adapt to the more professional requirements of the new Governor.

Could she have had an affair with another, less high profile prisoner, before the tighter regime came into play, and turned that into an account of an affair with Warren? That's certainly a possibility, what one might call "The Niven Effect", as David Niven in his memoir "The Moon is a Balloon" had a habit of substituting famous names for others to tell a good story (and sell it!); this technique is well exposed factually in the biography "Niv.".

It seems very likely the Mail is using a photograph taken especially for a promotion, such as an anti-drugs campaign, as suggested by Curtis Warren's lawyer. It is notable that it is a professional photograph, not an amateur snapshot. The lack of any caption makes it very misleading, and one wonders if the Mail has taken any other liberties with their story.

Almost as if pre-empting criticism, the Mail article has Rodrigues state that: "I wasn't one of these women who write love letters to famous criminals they don't even know". But the pattern of affairs with inmates from professionals and officers is that they do know the criminal intimately, and that they do write love letters. It is almost as if she is safeguarding her story against the accusation that there are no visible letters showing terms of endearment. There is no "paper trail".

While it is possible that Teresa Rodrigues may have had an affair with Curtis Warren, this has to be balanced against the possibility that she fantasised about having an affair with him. Her description of how the prison operated seems more in line with the slack regime before 2008, and the absence of love letters which are so much a modus operandi in such affairs, are strong pointers against veracity, and suggests a story made from memories of conditions for much of her time spent visiting prisoners (from 2001 to 2008, rather than 2008-2010). Such anachronisms which conflate memories are often a pointer to later redaction when historians examine sources. And the way the Mail uses a professional photograph without context suggests that their presentation is not entirely honest to their readers.

What is also clear is that the prison regime has been tightened further. Answers from Senator Le Marquand indicate that while insufficient facilities meant some meetings of a professional with prisoners would take place in a cell (but with door open, and prison officer just outside), this has been replaced by a dedicated room with CCTV surveillance.

This means that any enquiry as to what happened would not necessarily achieve much as the historical conditions which prevailed no longer are in place, and the main purpose of any enquiry should be to ensure that if such an affair had occurred, steps had been taken to prevent similar occurrences.


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