A former soldier attempted to smuggle drugs and a phone into a prison hidden in hollowed-out soles of a pair of shoes, a court heard.

Michael Bona, of The Willows, Prestatyn, was visiting Shropshire’s Stoke Heath Prison in December last year when he was spotted swapping shoes with an inmate.

Both the prisoner, 43-year-old Jamie Hall, and 32-year-old Bona claimed they were acting as ‘middle men’ for others in jail.

At Shrewsbury Crown Court, Bona was given a total of 12 months in prison sentence, suspended for two years.

The father-of-five, who formerly served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was also ordered to complete 250 hours’ unpaid work.

He had admitted attempting to smuggle the items into the prison near Market Drayton and possession of drugs.

Hall, who at court appeared via video link, had also admitted the offences and had intended passing on the drugs to another inmate, was given a six-month sentence to run concurrently with the sentence he is already serving.

Judge Jim Tindal said the offence involved a degree of sophistication and taking drugs into prisons stopped people being rehabilitated and were used as bargaining counters as ways to control people in prison.

Patrick Sullivan, prosecuting, said that the two defendants had been seated together in the visitor hall at the prison on December 12 and were watched by officers.

He said staff saw them swap shoes and a subsequent search showed the shoes Hall was wearing had hollowed out soles containing methyl, a class C drug linked to psychosis, and a mobile phone.

Julian Nutter, for Bona, said his client served in Iraq and had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and that debt was also behind the offences.

He said Bona was now getting help with his debts and had a job and had shown remorse but had suffered a break down.

Kevin Jones, for Hall, said his client’s his parents lived abroad and he was vulnerable and on his own, which made him a target.

He said Hall had been under instructions, but may now be moved to a different prison where he will get therapy and take on a university degree.