Aylesbury nurse given suspended sentence for having secret love affair with young inmate
The pair exchanged tender love letters, court hears
A senior nurse had a secret love affair with an inmate serving time at Aylesbury Young Offenders Institute, a court has heard.
Berenice Ivey arranged "long periods" alone with 21-year-old Reuben Smith while he was serving time at Aylesbury Young Offenders' Institute in 2017.
The then 28-year-old nurse developed a "soft spot" for the young man after he had forced a fellow inmate to send her an apology letter after he'd harassed her, the court was told.
Smith added Ivey on social media on an illegal phone he had acquired in prison, and the pair indulged in a seven-month relationship, writing love letters and text messages to each other.
The nurse even sent a photograph of herself to the prisoner, Amersham Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Walton Hornsby told the judge: "I have to say the tone of the letters is tender and loving, it was a serious relationship between them. They talk about getting married and having children."
The Crown Court heard how Ivey "manipulated" her position to see Smith for more than 30-minute sessions of routine medical examinations, eventually exposing their secret affair to other medical staff at the prison.
The pair were rumbled when their love letters were discovered and Ivey was charged with misconduct in a public office.
Mr Recorder Nicholas Rhodes QC told her: "While you maintain there was no intimate sexual relationship and that is accepted, it is clear from the letters you had written that your relationship was proceeding that way and you had a strong sexual interest in each other."
Having studied at the prestigious Kings College for three years to obtain a nursing degree, the court heard how "humiliated" Ivey had thrown her career away after her moment of madness spiralled.
She is now studying for a history degree through the Milton Keynes Open University.
Defence counsel Mohammed Saqib told the court Ivey is now engaged and set to get married next May after reigniting a love tryst with a former partner.
He described how the relationship with the young inmate flourished after the nurse was touched by the apology letter.
"She would encourage him to act properly and behave well as he was often in the solitary confinement unit of the prison. He seemed to listen to her advice which was reassuring," he said.
"She was going through a hard time, her self-esteem was at the lowest in her career, she let her guard down and things spiralled out of control," he added.
In an "exceptional" twist of events, the judge handed the former nurse a suspended sentence after he heard how she was three years into her six year degree.
Mr Recorder Rhodes QC was also impressed during the almost four year anxious wait for the case to come to court after she had admitted to her crimes, that Ivey had completely re-trained and was working for an insurance company.
He said: "You were aged 28 years and Reuben Smith was aged 21 years when he became the object of your desire.
"Over a period of weeks you manipulated the system to arrange long periods alone together in the facility. You communicated with him on a mobile phone you knew he had, sending him text messages and a photo of yourself.
"There are clear rules about fraternising with inmates and all forms of relationships are off limits....you breached that trust by striking up a relationship with a prisoner seven years younger than you.
"You opened yourself up to blackmail and compromised the safety and security of all of those in the prison.
"However, this case has taken four years to come to court, imposing significant anxiety on you. You are now studying for a history degree, you are three years into a six year course. You have also obtained employment with an insurance company and you are in a stable relationship."
Ivey was sentenced to 15 months in jail, suspended for two years and will have to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
Mr Recorder Rhodes QC said: "It may be said that the sentence is too lenient but this is an exceptional case. You have come as close as anyone can to going straight to prison."