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A woman has been banned from every jail in Britain after she passed her fiancé what she claims was a fruit pastille. Melissa Hopper, 26, went to visit her baby’s father David Scott, who is a convicted drug gang member. During her visit, CCTV caught her passing him an ‘unauthorised article’ – which she insists was a sweet. ‘They obviously think it was drugs but it was just a Fruit Pastille that was thrown down a top,’ she said. ‘We were just having a laugh but now our baby might not be able to see her dad. ‘The baby needs to know her dad and I’m suffering from depression, so this is just making it worse.’
Staff at HMP Holme House in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside, have barred Melissa from visiting David for six months. Melissa claims Scott picked the sweet up and ate it during a visit on November 10. ‘They won’t say exactly what it is but they have basically implied he’s taken drugs, yet offered no proof,’ she said.
‘If it was drugs, why didn’t they drug test or nick him? ‘It was just a sweet and of course it is going to get eaten – what do they expect me to do, bin it?’ In March, Scott, 32, of High Newham, Hardwick, was locked up for more than six years for his role in a multi-million pound trans-Pennine plot to flood Teesside’s streets with heroin.
After Melissa is allowed back, she faces another six months of ‘closed visits’, which means the couple will be separated by a panel. ‘It means I can’t touch him, and neither can his daughter,’ she said. ‘It is his family who will suffer.’ Melissa claims to have contacted both a solicitor and her Stockton North MP, Labour’s Alex Cunningham, to try to get the ban quashed.
However the Ministry of Justice seem set to hold firm over the ban. An MoJ spokesperson said: ‘We do not tolerate anyone breaking prison rules, and those that do so will face appropriate disciplinary action.’ HMP Holme House is currently spending millions of pounds to stamp out drug use and increase security. Last year it was announced that £9m will fund new body scanners to crack down on the use of new psychoactive substances, most commonly spice. Earlier this year, the category B jail was put in lockdown after staff fell sick inhaling spice fumes.
Spain: Thousands march against spain’s ruling on separatist leaders
Three other defendants, who were also on trial for their involvement in the October 2017 referendum held in spite of a ban and a short-lived independence declaration, were found guilty only of disobedience and not sentenced to prison.
All defendants were acquitted of the gravest charge, rebellion, but leading separatists were quick to condemn the court’s decision and the jailed men sent out messages of defiance, urging people to take to the streets.
“This sentence is an attack on democracy and the rights of all citizens,” the head of the regional parliament Roger Torrent said. “Today we are all convicted, not just 12 people.”
Former head of Catalonia’s regional government, Carles Puigdemont, said the prison sentences were an “atrocity.”
In Barcelona, three main streets were blocked by protesters holding signs calling for “Freedom for political prisoners” and a crowd chanted “We’ll do it again” – a slogan used by separatist supporters who want to hold another referendum.
Protesters blocked train and metro access to the Barcelona airport and others temporarily halted traffic on the A2 highway, as well as on several regional roads across Catalonia, officials at the road traffic agency said.
The regional train network was interrupted in the separatist stronghold of Girona by people standing on the tracks, wrapped in pro-independence flags.
The Catalan independence drive attracted worldwide attention and triggered Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades and unnerved financial markets.
The ruling and its fallout is likely to color a national election on Nov. 10, Spain’s fourth in four years, and influence the direction taken by the separatist movement..
The jailed separatists said via social media that they would carry on their fight.
“Nine years in prison won’t end my optimism. Catalonia will be independent if we persist. Let us demonstrate without fear, let us move forward determinedly from non-violence to freedom,” said Jordi Sanchez, who was sentenced to nine years in jail. Sanchez was the leader of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) grassroots movement.
Protests for Catalonia’s independence have been largely peaceful over the past years but police sources have said authorities are prepared for any violence.
The regional head of Catalonia, separatist Quim Torra, called for an amnesty for all 12 leaders and said he would seek an urgent meeting with Spain’s King Felipe VI and acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. However, Torra stopped short of repeating past weeks’ calls for civil disobedience.
Sanchez was quick to rebuff the demand for an amnesty, saying the sentences must be carried out.
“Today’s decision confirms the defeat of a movement that failed to gain internal support and international recognition,” he said in a televised address to the nation. He also called for dialogue, saying now was time for a new chapter over the Catalan issue.
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