Former-prison officer Jane Archer, from Maltby, UK formed a relationship with Stephen Archer, 48, during his time in prison, and even helped him flee from a Derbyshire jail.
Derby Crown Court has now heard how the 55-year-old woman met her partner at the gates of HMP Sudbury – an open prison – and even drove him back to her home.
The 55-year-old’s sentencing heard how the following day, after meeting, she drove him to the Folkestone and Dover area where he laid low for a number of days.
She was then called at a later date and travelled back to the South East coast to pick him up.
The scheming pair’s bid for freedom came to an end however when they were stopped by police as Jane travelled up the M6 towards Manchester.
The pair were caught and Jane was consequently arrested.
In her police interview, she then gave what a judge called “a cock and bull story” about a plan to escape from Derbyshire – claiming it was “nothing to do with her”.
In handing Jane Archer an 18-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, Judge Shaun Smith KC said: “A number of years ago, in your capacity as a prison officer, you formed a relationship with a lifer, Stephen Archer, who was in prison for murder.”
Speaking about the duration of the relationship itself, the judge added:“ The relationship carried on for a long time and in May 2019, he walked out of Sudbury and you know why as you had driven to pick him up. He remained at large for a number of days during which you were involved and you then gave the police a cock and bull story about your involvement.”
“Helping somebody escape from prison, in whatever format, is a serious offence.”
Reprimanding Archer for her actions, he said: “It is more serious in your case because you worked in the prison system and you knew how it worked. He was in custody for murder and you knew the system. I am not saying you planned it but I don’t believe you didn’t know there was a plan because you drove him to Dover and when he wanted to come back you picked him up.”
Prosecuting, Mark Achurch said that Stephen Archer was jailed for life for murder in 1995, adding when he was serving at HMP Ranby he met the defendant, who was then a prison officer.
While he said the relationship did not begin until she left the prison service, they were together for 14 years.
Despite the couple not being married, the former officer changed her last name to match his.
The prosecutor added that on the day of the escape, May 15, 2019, Stephen Archer walked out of the front gates at HMP Sudbury and was met by the defendant.
Jane first drove him to her home in the Rotherham area where he stayed the night.
The following day, Mr. Achurch said she transported him to Folkestone where they booked into the town’s Premier Inn and stayed the night.
Mr. Achurch said: “They went to an Argos store where she bought him a mobile phone and she left and returned to Rotherham leaving him there.
“Nine days later, she drove back to Folkestone and picked him up and the car was stopped on the M6 in Cheshire.
“It appears Mr Archer was in the Dover area during that time and he has already been dealt with, receiving a four-month jail sentence and being returned to a category B prison (Sudbury is a category D open prison).”
Jane Archer has since pleaded guilty to assisting a convicted offender of escaping lawful custody.
While it was noted she has no previous convictions, as part of the suspended sentence order, Judge Smith ordered her to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and to attend 20 rehabilitation sessions with the probation service.
In mitigating, Chris Brewin said that his client “felt manipulated and emotionally blackmailed” to become involved in the escape plan.
He said: “She maintains the plan was to drive him to the Manchester area where he was going to hand himself in the hope of being sent to a prison in that area close to where his family is from.
“She has hit the depths and really regrets what she did.”
It was not said in court if the pair are still in a relationship or not.