A man has been jailed after using drones to fly drugs and mobile phones into HMP Manchester.

Damon Keegan aged 25  of no fixed address has been sentenced to three years and four months at Manchester Crown Square.

He pleaded guilty to conveying Class A and B substances into HM Prisons and assisting an offender.

The court heard that on the 3rd April 2016, staff at HMP Manchester saw a drone fly towards the window of a cell whilst carrying a package of suspected contraband.

Keegan reached out and grabbed it from inside his cell. However, a search of his cell after didn’t find anything and it is believed the packages had already been distributed.

Keegan then left prison on 10 March 2017 and a month later, a mobile phone was seized from another prisoner following further reports of drone activity.

Police uncovered prisoners had been communicating with the drone operator, later revealed to be Keegan.

On 10 June 2017, a drone which had been attempting to deliver illegal packages to cells was caught within the security netting at HMP Manchester.

This drone was carrying seven mobile phones, 12 sim cards, drugs including cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids (spice) as well as USB cards with films on them.

The items were individually wrapped in preparation for distribution throughout the prison and the entire delivery is estimated to be worth nearly £24,000 when sold.

Eight days later a similar drone was again intercepted by prison officers which contained drugs worth over £36,000 if sold on the inside of the prison.

Officers searched for Keegan who was actively evading the police and on 28 November 2017, he was arrested. On interview he admitted making drone deliveries to prison.

Detective Constable Adam Cronshaw of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: “Keegan was essentially an airborne drug dealer. He knew that trafficking drugs and phones into prison can be very lucrative and thought that by using drones he wouldn’t get arrested.

“There are dangerous side effects of taking synthetic cannabinoids which put both prisoners and staff at risk. Bullying often takes place between prisoners who run up large drugs debts.

“The mini mobile phones he attempted to smuggle in can be used to facilitate serious crime, witness intimidation and planning of escapes.”

“GMP’s continued partnership with HMP Manchester is targeting organised crime on both sides of the prison walls.”

Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“I am determined to stem the flow of drugs into our prisons and the sentencing today sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of activity. Those who peddle drugs in an attempt to thwart reform should face the full force of the law, which means a police investigation and extra time behind bars.

“I want to pay tribute to the prison staff at HMP Manchester and Greater Manchester Police for their efforts and dedication in preventing contraband from getting into the prison, which we know has a detrimental impact on stability and progress.”


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