A former police and prison officer has been jailed after her involvement in a burglary and money laundering conspiracy. 

Stephanie Heaps, 32, from Runcorn, started a relationship with convicted murderer Leon Ramsden, also known as Layton, while working as a prison officer. The pair have since married. 

She worked as a prison officer from March 2018 to July 2019 and then as a police officer in the Bolton district up to her arrest and resignation in early 2020.

Becoming increasingly aware of Ramsden's criminal activities in prison, such as cannabis dealing, and not reporting him, she soon became involved, providing him with phones and advice to keep them hidden from detection. 

Leon Ramsden, also known as Layton, with Stephanie HeapsLeon Ramsden, also known as Layton, with Stephanie Heaps (Image: Public)

After leaving her role at the prison and becoming a police officer, Heaps supplied him with information on other prison officers and an address of a home to burgle, that of her ex-boyfriend. 

Today, Heaps, Ramsden and four members of the gang who were involved in the crimes were sentenced at Bolton Crown Court. 

Mitigation for Heaps, Lee Ramsden, Clifford McCarthy and Philip Markland had been given on a previous date, with mitigation for the remaining two to be done today.  

Defending Layton Ramsden, David Pojur said: "The relationship between him and Stephanie Heaps, whilst that is an aggravating feature, these are two people whose paths have crossed, they have met and it is in actual fact a love story between the two of them. 

"They have married in December 2023, it is rather exceptional and unusual. 

"Somebody from the outside looking in might consider it to be taking advantage, but they have very clear plans in the future to come together and have their relationship, live as one and have a family." 

He also highlighted Ramsden being of good standing in the prison, and how he will have completed a six year degree in sport and fitness by the end of his prison term. 

Nick Ross, defending Joanne Campbell, said how, "recently" she had suffered a stroke, confining her to a wheelchair and leaving her in ill health. 

He said: "She is living in profound fear what she would do without a hospital bed or the equipment she has at home. 

"Whilst her crimes merit custody, I hope on balance you will suspend her term of imprisonment."

Heaps, of Honister Grove, Runcorn, now known as Stephanie Ramsden, was given four years and three months in prison for misconduct in public office and her role in helping her husband and his associates commit crimes. 

Layton Ramsden, 35, of HMP Berwyn, was given five years and seven months. Before being taken down, he leaned over and kissed his wife goodbye, before also saying goodbye to his father. 

Stephanie outside the prisonStephanie outside the prison (Image: GMP)

Markland, 40, of Bardon Close, Bolton, was sentenced to 22 months for conspiracy to commit burglary. 

Layton's father, Lee Ramsden, 52, of Bleak Street, Bolton, was given a 15-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, with 25 rehabilitation days and a six-month home detention curfew between 7pm and 6am everyday, for conspiracy to transfer, conceal and convert criminal property. 

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McCarthy, 35, of Larkfield Grove, Bolton, was sentenced to 15 months suspended for two years, 200 hours community service and 10 rehabilitation days for conspiracy to transfer, conceal and convert criminal property. 

Campbell, 48, of Gisburn Avenue, Bolton, was sentenced to 13 months suspended for 18 months, 25 rehabilitation days and referred to support services for conspiracy to transfer, conceal and convert criminal property.

Stephanie HeapsStephanie Heaps (Image: GMP)

Detective Chief Inspector Jennifer Adams, of Greater Manchester Police's Anti-Corruption Unit, said: “During our investigation, we were shocked by the actions of Stephanie Heaps and her brazen disregard for the standards required for both her roles in the police and the prison service.

“As soon as we were made aware of Heaps’ potential relationship with Ramsden, we conducted a number of detailed enquiries to ensure that the maximum amount of evidence about her offending could be collated so she could be held accountable for the full extent of her crimes.

“It’s clear Heaps should never be trusted to serve the public, and it is testament to the investigation team that she was only in uniform for a matter of months before she was taken away from frontline duties for good and now put rightly behind bars along with Ramsden and his associates.” 

Stephanie and Layton Ramsden's wedding pictureStephanie and Layton Ramsden's wedding picture (Image: GMP)

Alan Richardson, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said: “Stephanie Heaps was in a position of trust both as a prison officer and later a police officer.

“She knew that her actions created a serious conflict of interest and entirely compromised the trusted positions she held.

“The CPS worked hard with Greater Manchester Police to build a strong case. The strength of the evidence was such that Heaps had no option but accepts her guilt.  

“Heaps will now face the consequences of her actions.”