PRISON officer Emily Watson performed a sex act on a prisoner in his cell on Christmas Day.

The 26-year-old, described as extremely naive, fell in love with John McGee, who was serving an eight-year prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving following a hit and run in Liverpool.

Watson, employed at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham, went to his cell alone on three occasions and performed a sex act on him twice and had full intercourse with him once.

Mold Crown Court heard her first contact with him was when he was released and she did a three-legged race with him to raise funds for the BBC Children in Need appeal.

She spent so much time talking to him on the wing that suspicions were roused.

A probe showed how he had been able to contact her via Instagram via an iPhone 6 which was hidden inside a playstation which he opened with a screwdriver disguised as a pen.

They had virtual sex via FaceTime and she sent him naked photographs of herself and a video containing sexual footage of herself.

He registered her number under another name on his official prison phone and they had regular chats – there were 96 calls in one month.

Watson, of Jerusalem Road in Linthwaite, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, wept as she was jailed for a year after she pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office by engaging in an intimate sexual relationship with a prisoner between October 2017 and the end of January 2018, although Watson was said to have realised it was getting out of hand and handed in her notice.

Judge Niclas Parry said that she would understand that "everything about this case is so, so wrong".

He said in December 2015 McGee, on licence from a custodial sentence for supplying class A drugs, drove at excessive speed in an attempt to evade arrest in a police chase.

McGee drove with his lights off and ploughed into Richard Bratin, a 52-year-old father and charity worker out walking his dog.

He was killed and McGee drove on, leaving him for dead.

"One can only hope the sentence of eight years imprisonment would have been some comfort to the family of Mr Bratin," said the judge.

"Therefore it is difficult to imagine the betrayal they must have felt at finding out that he was able to have free access to an iPhone in prison and conduct a sexual relationship from his prison cell."

Judge Parry said the public would be astounded that a serving prisoner was able to contact her on Instagram from his cell and contact her regularly when she was not working.

It all happened, he said, because she, not a novice but a prison officer for three years, ignored the training she had been given and became far too close to a serving prisoner.

Such was the time she was spending with him that it came to the notice of prison intelligence.

She visited his prison cell alone and it was at her suggestion that he registered a false name on his prison phone so he could contact her and circumvent prison security.

The sex act and full intercourse took place in his cell and as she was arrested going in for a shift she was bringing in treat food, no doubt meant for him.

"This quite reprehensible behaviour" was willingly entered into for nothing other than thrill-seeking and personal gratification, having been flattered," Judge Parry said.

It was, he said, a "gross dereliction of duty".

"If prison officers are corrupt, then the system falls apart."

The judge said Watson had acted out of character, she had no previous convictions and he had read a letter from her and her family who had been rightly proud of her achievements.

He accepted that she was a hard-working lady, now working in two jobs, that she was university educated with a social conscience who did charity work to help others and was truly remorseful.

Gerald Pachter, defending, had suggested a suspended sentence but the judge said he could not agree to that.

Watson immediately began crying loudly in the dock and could be heard sobbing as she was taken down to the custody block.

Prosecutor David Mainstone said she began working at HMP Berwyn in July 2017 but an investigation was set up following reports that she was spending a lot of time in McGee's company.

That was confirmed by CCTV checks which also showed she had been to his cell alone.

In December 2017 he registered her number under a false name on his prison phone and he contacted her a large number of times.

When recordings were listened to her voice was recognised and it was clear from the conversations that they were sexual at times.

She was directed by him to attend his sister's home before Christmas and ANPR checks showed her car had travelled to Liverpool.

An illegal iPhone was found hidden in his cell which had been used to contact her via Instagram.

After her arrest in January of last year her phone showed that they had FaceTime sex.

A second mobile phone was found at her home which showed contact with McGee's illegal phone.

He would send her messages saying her was dreaming of her.

She had also sent him a naked picture and a sexual video of herself.

Interviewed, she made a full confession and said she believed herself to be in love with him.

They had sex three times in his cell, a sex act on Christmas Day and on another occasion and they had intercourse on January 19, she said.

The prosecutor said that much of the delay had been taken up in accessing McGee's phone after he failed to provide the password.

Mr Pachter said it was accepted such offences affected public confidence in the prison service.

But the delay in bringing the case to court had affected her mental health, she had tried to throw herself off a bridge at one stage and had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Watson, he said, was a hard worker and after her dismissal from the prison service, where she would never work again, she was working full-time for Lloyd's Bank in a bereavement team and also at a friend's pub.

His client did a lot of charity work, including work with the homeless, and clearly had a social conscience but she was clearly "very naive".

She got to know McGee when they did charity work together and she did a three-legged race with him for BBC Children in Need.

He later contacted her by Instagram and that was when her stupidity and naivety started.

Mr Pachter said when she looked back she was appalled, could not believe what she had done and was acutely aware of the effect of her behaviour on the family of the late Mr Bratin.

When confronted she was candid in an emotional interview.

She had come out of a long relationship, realised that what she was doing with the prisoner was wrong and had handed in her notice because she "wanted to get away".

He stressed she had not been involved in taking anything illegal in to the prison for him and there was no suggestion that she had.