A prison officer helped a dangerous thief escape from jail after falling in love and striking up a relationship with him from prison. The now ex-officer will return to prison but this time as an inmate.
Prison officer in love with inmate helps him escape
Erica Whittingham was waiting in her car outside HMP Sudbury and was Michael Seddon’s getaway driver after he left a decoy in his cell to fool guards.
A court heard how she kept in touch with him for six months by meeting his mistress in hotels and buying him clothes while he was still on the run
Whittingham said she had fallen in love with Seddon, who was a violent burglar and part of a gang who tied up and beat up an elderly family. The 33-year-old will now return to prison as an inmate rather than an officer after being jailed for three years.
Recorder Balraj Bhattia QC said: “You knew what you were doing was wrong and I am satisfied that you were complicit in his escape. You were responsible for chasing him away knowing he was an escaped prisoner.”
Daren Samat, prosecuting, said Whittingham and Seddon began a relationship when she was working at HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire, where he was based at the time.
He said that after Seddon was transferred to HMP Sudbury, they remained in contact with him using a contraband cell phone and her using a “burner” phone.
Samat said cell phone analysis showed the couple had been in contact after Seddon Dovegate left to go to Sudbury.
He said that over the next six months he was illegally at large and they met on at least eight occasions, including a hotel in Birmingham and in Manchester, Tamworth, Lincolnshire, Crewe, Merseyside and Bicester.
Samat said Seddon was arrested in Bournemouth in March 2020 after forming a new relationship with a different woman.
Whittingham, of Leigh Lane, Bramshall, Uttoxeter, previously pleaded guilty to harboring an escaped prisoner and misconduct in public office.