A prison guard accused of smuggling drugs into jail has walked free after he told jurors he was forced to by inmates with gangland links.

Martin McGee, 33, claimed he stashed 1,463 street Valium tablets inside a rowing machine at Glasgow’s HMP Barlinnie on 15th March 2021.

McGee, of Erskine said he earlier picked up the drugs from John Moore, 29, in a car park during his tea break.

He returned to work within the hour through a fire escape not covered by CCTV.

McGee went straight to a cupboard which contained the rowing machine where he remained for a minute before locking it up.

A search by colleagues the next day recovered the drugs.

McGee had been under watch by senior prison staff as a result of intelligence received in Operation Lauderdale.

He was seen to talk to long term inmates – referred as Prisoner A and B during the trial – who have links to organised crime.

McGee was described as being “friendly” and laughing with them.

But, he claimed he was feared from the pair who had threatened him to carry out the pick up and drop off.

McGee was hauled into the dock at Glasgow Sheriff Court where he was found not proven to being concerned in the supply of street Valium.

He had earlier lodged a special defence of coercion.

Jurors watched CCTV of McGee meeting Moore at a car park in the city’s Maryhill on 14th March 2021 at 1.42pm.

McGee in his black Ford Focus was seen to pull up beside a grey BMW which Moore emerged from.

Moore approached McGee’s driver window and passed him an unseen item before he headed back into the BMW.

A Scottish Prison Service anti-corruption manager stated McGee re-commenced his duties just after 2.30pm.

She said: “McGee attended A Hall level four via a fire escape on level two.”

Prosecutor Darren Harty asked the significance of exiting through the fire escape.

The manager replied: “The fire escape has no CCTV coverage.”

The manager noted in her event log at 2.39pm that McGee “entered the side cupboard after opening the cell across from the toilet.

Mr Harty asked how long McGee was in the side cupboard for.

The manager replied: “About one minute.”

The log goes on: “A prisoner approached the side cupboard shortly after it was unlocked.”

McGee was then noted to be in conversation with the same prisoner at 2.46pm.

The drugs were found inside the pedal of the rowing machine the following day by two members of prison staff.

A 54-year-old prison manager told the court about a viewing log he made from an earlier day in March where McGee and the two prisoners were interacting with each other.

He recalled: “I found there to be a more familiarity with the prisoners and Mr McGee than some other prisoners.”

The manager added: “There was laughing and joking.”

McGee told his lawyer Graham Mann in his evidence that staff are regularly asked to bring items into the jail from prisoners in the past but it was laughed off.

He said he feared the two men and that other officers spoke to them differently as they operated at a “high level.”

McGee stated that things with the two prisoners became “more serious” after he was approached after initially laughing their request off.

He added: “The threats became more, they made me aware that they knew a lot more about me – they made it clear they knew where I lived and that they had friends who lived there.”

McGee stated that he wished he acted differently at the time and reported the matter.

He said: “I can’t describe the fear I had. I didn’t know whether to say or not without making things worse.”

McGee claimed he was instructed to meet Moore at the car park on the day where the drugs were thrown on his lap.

He stated: “I was told that they would be coming for me after that if I didn’t.”

McGee added that he believed he would get into the prison with the drugs despite the airport style security checks at the entrance.

McGee – who now works as a roofing labourer – was suspended following the drugs being found.

Moore pled guilty in front of the jury to two charges of being concerned in the supply of drugs. He will be sentenced next month.

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