Prisoner caught with stash of more than £3,000 in cash hidden in his cell at Leeds jail
A career criminal had over £3,000 in cash in his cell as he was about to be released from a Leeds prison.
Tony Edwards had over 3,000 in cash in his cell at HMP Wealstun
Convicted drug dealer Tony Edwards was caught with a wad of bank notes in his bag the day before he was due to complete his sentence at HMP Wealstun, Thorp Arch, near Wetherby.
Prison officers made the discovery when they searched his cell at the Category C jail on March 5 last year.
Leeds Crown Court heard Edwards was sat on his bed when officers went into his cell and told him they were doing a search.
Edwards told them: "Everything's packed up. I'm off home tomorrow."
A total of £3,170 was found in envelopes inside his bag.
Edwards initially claimed he had brought the cash into prison with him when he was jailed for possessing cannabis and cocaine in 2015.
But on closer inspection, much of the sum was made up of new polymer £10 notes.
The notes were first issued by the Bank of England in September, 2017 - more than a year AFTER Edwards had been locked up.
Mehran Nassiri, prosecuting, said it was the Crown's case that Edwards must have acquired the money while he was a prisoner.
Edwards, of Raincliffe Terrace, Cross Green, Leeds, admitted a charge of possessing criminal property after changing the basis of his guilty plea.
He claimed he had the money with him in prison because he "wanted to keep an eye on it".
Edwards said much of the cash was made up of old paper £10 bank notes and he made arrangements while in custody to exchange them with others for new notes.
The court heard it is against the law to bring money in and out of prison so the sum had been illegally obtained.
The money was confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Edwards has previous convictions for drug supply, handling stolen goods, theft, conspiracy to commit robbery and fraudulent evasion of duty.
Probation officer Jodie Loftus said Edwards had been out of trouble since being released from prison.
She added that he had found a job and was motivated to work hard to support his family.
Edwards was given a 12 month sentence, suspended for two years.
Recorder Anthony Hawks said: "The basis of plea is that money was being sent to you in prison which you kept in prison because you were keen to keep an eye on it.
"When the money you had went out of circulation, there came a time when the old notes had to be exchanged for new notes and you got people to do that for you.
"If you thought keeping money in prison rather in a bank was a good idea, you have learned a salutary lesson.
"I have doubts about what was actually going on here - but you have lost the money."