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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Andrew Bardsley & Sean McPolin

Prison nurse struck up relationship with drug boss inmate that led to luxury lifestyle

A prison nurse who struck up a relationship with a drugs boss inmate and helped him run his criminal empire while he was behind bars has avoided a jail sentence.

Georgia Harkness, 27, lived a lavish lifestyle which was funded by her criminal partner and father of her child Ashley Blackett, 35, after she met the Salford man at HMP Risley in Warrington back in 2017.

Georgia, who is the daughter of former Liverpool footballer Steve Harkness, was working as a prison nurse at the time when she and Blackett struck up a relationship.

She went on to have his baby and has since lived an "extravagant" life, which has been funded by Blackett, despite him being jailed in February for more than 12 years.

Harkness was arrested in June 2020 and refused to hand over the PIN to officers who eventually cracked the device and found incriminating material which linked her Blackett's empire.

Harkness, who was supported at court by her ex-footballer father, was spared a prison due to having no previous convictions, a young child and the chance to rehabilitate, Manchester Evening News reported.

Georgia Harkness, 27, avoided jail after appearing at Manchester Crown Court on Friday (MEN MEDIA)

But, she was given a stern warning by Judge Nicholas Dean KC.

He said: "Ashley Blackett has ruined your life, to a large extent.

"Though you are intelligent you seem to be completely blind to Ashley Blackett's true character."

Manchester Crown Court heard that Harkness provided a character reference for Blackett at his court hearing, and that their relationship appears to be "ongoing".

"He professes, no doubt, to care for you and love you, but he has used you," the judge continued. "It is not for me to try to persuade you to abandon that relationship, but everybody who is close to you recognises that Ashley Blackett is a very bad influence on you. He is a career and committed criminal."

Harkness and Blackett met back in 2017 and she became pregnant with his child during a short spell when he had been released.

He was later recalled to prison and directed drug dealing from his prison cell using illegal phones.

Criminal Ashley Blackett, 35, met Georgia Harkness while she was a prison nurse at HMP Risley in Warrington (MEN MEDIA)

His brother Wesley Blackett, and his right-hand man Christopher Taylor, supplied cocaine and heroin on the outside on Blackett's behalf.

Investigators poured over Blackett's financial records and found that Harkness had sent him more than £1,000 during a nine month period in 2019, via his prison payment system.

Prosecutor Joe Allman revealed Harkness had Blackett expensive designer clothes and he paid for gifts which he sent her.

Mr Allman said Harkness was "living way beyond her means" and indulging in "extravagant" spending.

When police went to her home, they found £34,000 worth of designer clothes, and jewellery worth £13,000.

Bank records showed she'd purchased items from designer stores including Tessuti and Flannels.

Christopher Taylor, 34, of no fixed abode, was jailed for seven years (MEN MEDIA)

Harkness, from St Helens, pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property, transferring criminal property, possession with intent to supply testosterone, a class C drug, and failing to comply with a section 49 by not telling police the PIN number to her mobile phone.

Judge Dean said: "You have pleaded guilty to serious offences.

"You come from a good positive and supportive family. You describe yourself as a good nurse, I have no doubt you were.

"You must have recognised that what you were doing was wrong.

"You must have recognised that you were supporting Ashley Blackett in his unlawful activity. It may be to a certain extent you enjoyed the lifestyle he facilitated for you, I don't know.

"It is hard to understand why you persisted in behaving the way that you did." Harkness was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and was ordered to carry out 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days."

She will face a further hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act later this year, where prosecutors will seek to claw back her ill-gotten gains.

At a separate hearing last month, Ashley Blackett was jailed after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply Class A drugs and possessing a mobile phone in prison.

Christopher Taylor, 34, of no fixed abode, was jailed for seven years, and Wesley Blackett, 37, of North George Street, Salford, was jailed for five-and-a-half years. Both men admitted involvement in the drugs conspiracy.

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