Female prison officer given suspended sentence after relationship with inmate

PUBLISHED: 12:55 02 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:03 02 October 2020

Norwich prison officer Catia Rocha admitted having a relationship with an inmate Photo : Steve Adams

Norwich prison officer Catia Rocha admitted having a relationship with an inmate Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

A former prison officer has been given a six-month suspended sentence after having an intimate relationship with an inmate at Norwich Prison.

Catia Rocha, 38, had earlier pleaded guilty at Norwich Crown Court to an offence of misconduct at Norwich Crown Court.

Rocha, of Earlham, Norwich, was sentenced at the same court on October 2.

Judge Stephen Holt heard she had a relationship with an inmate, named as Mr Barber, between November 15, 2019 and January 20 this year.

The court heard their physical relationship did not go beyond “kisses and cuddles” on two occasions in an office and on a stairwell.

The inmate had handed her 36 letters and Rocha had given him a similar number, and she had sent him a parcel containing clothes, which she purported to be from his mother.

Rocha was new to the Prison Service, having started on June 10 last year. She had only been working unsupervised for a couple of weeks at the time of the relationship, after being trained by someone who was himself relatively inexperienced. The court heard how Rocha got “caught up” in the relationship and fell in love with the inmate.

The relationship was reported to the prison governor by a fellow inmate, who had concerns about it, and Rocha was arrested on February 3.

She had previously been in an abusive relationship for eight years, and was bringing up her 17-year-old daughter.

Barrister John Morgans, mitigating, said the role of prison officer had been a “dream job” for Rocha, but she was she was going through a difficult period.

He said: “It was a job she had always wanted, but there wasn’t an extensive training programme.

“She was very new at the job and she was suffering greatly at the time both at home and at work. She finds herself at her very lowest ebb and then there is somebody who is offering support. When this relationship first started she should have resigned, but it’s difficult to make that call.”

Mr Morgans said Rocha was now regularly getting up at 2.30am to work shifts to support her daughter.

He said: “That really is the measure of Catia Rocha, not this single offence.

“She is someone whose good will shine through.”

Judge Holt said Rocha was “a woman of good character” and said inexperience was a clear factor in the offence.

He said: “It would be very easy for me to criticise HMP Norwich but I’m not going to. It’s the resources that simply aren’t there.”

As well as the suspended sentence, Rocha was a given a rehabilitation activity requirement of a maximum of 30 days.

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