Tayside and Central Scotland

Castle Huntly prison officer found with on-the-run inmate

HMP Castle Huntly
Image caption Holland was missing from Castle Huntly prison when he was found with Christine Robertson

A female prison officer was found naked in a bed with a "dangerous" prisoner who had absconded from an open prison, a court has heard.

Police looking for missing inmate James Holland discovered him with Christine Robertson at her flat in Monifieth, Angus, on 17 March 2011.

Holland had walked out of Castle Huntly jail the day before.

Ms Robertson denies aiding and abetting him in absconding and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Police officers told a trial at Dundee Sheriff Court that intelligence suggested 40-year-old Holland - who was serving an eight-year term for assault and robbery - was at Ms Robertson's flat in the town's Reform Street.

Stun gun

The following morning a "riot squad" of 10 police - including firearms officers - turned up at her flat.

Det Con Dean Miller said two officers used a battering ram to smash the front door open. He then told how the officers - wearing full riot gear and carrying shields - stormed the flat.

The 27-year-old officer said he was first to approach the flat's master bedroom - and when he entered he saw Holland crouching naked on the bed holding a "large kitchen knife".

The police officer said: "Mr Holland had to be tasered using an electronic stun gun. Those shoot barbs into his chest, putting 50,000 volts through him.

"He was quite aggressive and belligerent. Once he was subdued I pulled back the covers of the bed to reveal a female underneath."

Ms Robertson, 45, was taken to the spare bedroom by other officers and was later heard by Det Con Miller to be "giggling and laughing" and saying that her career was finished.

He added that Holland had become violent towards officers as they tried to take him to a waiting vehicle.

Jonathan Crowe, defending Robertson, asked Det Con Miller: "Would it be fair to describe Jimmy Holland as one of the most dangerous and feared criminals in Scotland?"

The officer said: "That would be fair, yes."

Mr Crowe asked: "He has spent the last 20 years in jail for crimes of violence, disorder, hostage taking, assaulting police officers and members of the public - he is capable of anything, is that fair to say?"

Det Con Miller replied: "Yes."

Prison officer Graham Tait, 47, then told the trial that Ms Robertson had acted as Holland's personal prison officer during his time at Castle Huntly.

He said: "Holland was given exceptional day release and was escorted by Christine Robertson.

"Personal officers do a role to help prisoners through their sentence and get involved with them."

On one occasion Robertson escorted him for a day out in Fife, while on another she took him to see a social worker in Glasgow.

Ms Robertson has lodged a special defence of coercion in the case. The trial, before Sheriff Tom Hughes and a jury, continues.

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