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North-east woman who used home as drug den gives birth in prison

Zoe Mullen
Zoe Mullen

A north-east woman who allowed her house to be used as a drug den to feed her habit has given birth in prison.

Zoe Mullen was given a two year jail sentence in December last year after police found more than £100,000 worth of cocaine was found in her home in Aberdeen.

She was pregnant during her appearance in court and has now given birth at HMP Grampian in Peterhead where the baby remains in her care.

The superjail opened its doors in March 2014 and was hailed as the most family-friendly institution in Britain.

The site contains a mother and baby unit which can accommodate two female prisoners and their children.

During her appearance in Aberdeen Sheriff Court last year Mullen’s solicitor Tony Burgess revealed she had taken to storing drugs to feed her habit.

He said she lost weight and gained confidence so began socialising with a new crowd of people where she began taking cocaine and drinking excessively.

When she was unable to afford drugs she allowed her home to be used as a storage spot for the substance.

During a raid on her home on Stewart Crescent in Aberdeen last year officers found 1,490.6g of cocaine with a street value of £106,470.

Mr Burgess urged Sheriff Alison Stirling to spare her a custodial sentence as she was pregnant.

But the sheriff said given the value of the drugs there was no alternative to a “lengthy” custodial sentence.

Mullen has a year and a half left on her sentence.

When the facility opened Dawn Leslie, the HMP Grampian project co-ordinator at Aberdeenshire Council, insisted babies would not miss out.

She said: “Babies who are in the unit will still have access to all necessary appointments and will get to spend time outdoors.”

North-east MSP Lewis Macdonald said he hoped the facility would be able to provide for Mullen and her baby.

He said: “Clearly she should have been jailed for such a serious offence and she should be allowed to keep her baby with her.

“When HMP Grampian was set up it was done so to contain men and women and to keep prisoners close to their family.

“It does have facilities for a baby, I hope it has the capacity to provide a secure detention for the woman and a safe environment for the child.”

Children’s charities Barnados and the NSPCC wrote a review into childcare among prisoners in November 2014.

In it they revealed there is difficulty gathering data on how many women have given birth while in prison.

It estimates that there are between 3400 and 4600 youngsters below the age of two in Scotland had a parent in prison.

Women who give birth in prison can apply for a place a mother and baby unit can keep the baby with them for the duration of their sentence.

In Scotland 65% of women in prison are thought to have a child.

Between 2008 and 2012 a total of 19 prisoners in the country gave birth – all of who were serving their sentence in HMP Corton Vale in Stirling.

The authors pointed to a study done in the United States which said two-thirds of women who lived with a baby in nursery were found to have an insecure attachment.

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