Demaine York: man jailed for throwing banned items including drugs and mobile phones over prison wall

Police have been running Operation Dragonfire after HMP Forest Bank experienced major problems with items being hurled over the walls to the inmates.

A man has been jailed after throwing banned items including drugs and mobile phones over the wall of a prison in Greater Manchester.

Demaine York, of no fixed address, was put in prison after admitting in court that he threw parcels into HMP Forest Bank for prisoners inside. Police launched an operation to crack down on the illegal activities after the prison experienced a surge in contraband items such as drugs and phones ending up inside the walls.

Officers have warned that other people engaged in similar activities can also expect to find themselves being prosecuted.

How did the police catch and arrest Demaine York and what happened to him in court?

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) started taking action in 2021 after HMP Forest Bank experienced a significant problem with large numbers of items being thrown over the walls of the jail. These contained items including drugs and mobile phones.

Officers in plain clothes were deployed to woodland around the prison on 3 April 2021 and in the afternoon spotted a motorbike approaching the prison’s perimeter wall.

The bike’s passenger got off the vehicle, collected an item, walked through a wooded area and ran towards the perimeter wall. Analysis of CCTV footage showed him throwing two parcels over to the yards within the prison where prisoners were exercising, and further police investigation work identified him as 25-year-old Demaine York.

York ran back into the woods and when the bike’s rider saw police approaching he panicked and left his passenger at the scene. York tried to flee but was apprehended and arrested. A search found a small amount of cannabis wrapped in tin foil in his pocket. A mobile phone and £146 in cash were also seized. The two parcels thrown by York were found to contain drugs, three mobile phones with charging cables, tobacco and two screwdrivers.

Items that were in the parcels thrown over the perimeter wall of HMP Forest Bank

York was released under investigation pending forensic analysis of the drugs, which were later confirmed to be tobacco, cannabis and spice-infused paper. A specialist police drugs valuator said these items were worth around £7,000 inside prison.

As York refused to provide comment or the passcode of his mobile phone it took the police several months to gain access to it. A download report revealed that he was heavily involved in several further throw-overs.

What happened when the matter got to court?

York appeared at Manchester Crown Court on Monday (17 October) where at the first possible opportunity he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to convey List A and B articles into prison. He was sentenced to 28 months in jail.

Police say those throwing items over the walls of prisons to the inmates can receive around £150 per visit to a jail they make. The illegal conveyance of contraband items into prisons in the city-region is being tackled through Operation Dragonfire, a multi-agency affair involving the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU).

What have the police said about York’s jailing?

A police spokesperson said: “GMP, NWROCU, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and HMP Forest Bank continue to work closely together to proactively stop the ingress of drugs and phones into our prisons.

“These items put prison officers’ safety at risk, fuel violence and reduce chances of prisoner rehabilitation. Offenders involved in throwing parcels over are warned that you will be caught, and you will go to prison yourself.”