The daughter of a prison nurse of a Liverpool football star who lived an ‘extravagant’ lifestyle, funded by her drug lord boyfriend she met behind bars, has avoided prison – after the judge said the relationship destroyed her life.
Georgia Harkness, 27, started seeing Salford drug dealer Ashley Blackett after they met in prison, while he was serving time and she was working as a prison nurse.
Harkness, the daughter of former Liverpool footballer Steve Harkness, had Blackett’s baby and helped him continue his criminal empire while behind bars.
Blackett, who was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison last month, arranged for money to be sent to the prison nurse so she could spend £34,000 on designer clothes, £13,000 on jewelery and drive an Audi A5.
Harkness tried to hide the extent of her involvement by refusing to tell police her phone’s PIN, but they eventually cracked the device and discovered incriminating material.
Prison nurse Georgia Harkness, 27, has avoided jail after living an ‘extravagant’ lifestyle funded by her boyfriend Ashley Blackett, the drug kingpin, whom she met behind bars
Ashley Blackett, who was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison last month, arranged for money to be sent to the prison nurse so she could spend £34,000 on designer clothes, £13,000 on jewelery and drive an Audi A5
Harkness, who was supported at court by her father – who played more than 100 games for Liverpool in the 1990s – avoided prison after a judge said she had no previous convictions, she is looking after her young child and ruled she can be rehabilitated.
“Ashley Blackett ruined your life to a great extent,” Judge Nicholas Dean KC told her.
“Although you are intelligent, you seem completely blind to Ashley Blackett’s true character.”
The Manchester Crown Court heard that Harkness provided a character reference for Blackett at his hearing and that their relationship appears to be ‘ongoing’.
“No doubt he claims to care for and love you, but he used you,” the judge continued.
“It’s not for me to try and persuade you to give up on that relationship, but anyone close to you recognizes that Ashley Blackett is a very bad influence on you. He is a professional and committed criminal.’
The court was told she and Blackett, 35, first met in 2017 at HMP Risley in Warrington. She became pregnant with his child during a brief period after he was released.
Harkness is the daughter of former Liverpool footballer Steve Harkness (pictured)
Blackett’s brother Wesley Blackett and his right-hand man Christopher Taylor (pictured) supplied cocaine and heroin to the outside on Blackett’s behalf
He was later called back to prison and ran the drug trade from his jail cell using illegal phones. His brother Wesley Blackett and his right-hand man Christopher Taylor supplied cocaine and heroin to the outside on Blackett’s behalf.
Investigators sifted through Blackett’s financial records and found that Harkness had sent him more than £1,000 over a nine-month period in 2019 through his prison pay system.
She bought him expensive designer clothes and he paid for gifts he sent her, prosecutor Joe Allman said. She was also involved in money laundering by transferring money to different accounts, he said.
Mr Allman said Harkness ‘lived well beyond her means’ and indulged in ‘extravagant’ spending. When police went to her home, they found £34,000 worth of designer clothes and jewelery worth £13,000.
Bank records showed she had purchased items from designer stores, including Tessuti and Flannels.
Mr Allman said there was evidence that Blackett had been paying her rent every month, even though he was behind bars.
The search also found steroids worth £2,000. Harkness was arrested in July 2020. She refused to tell the police her PIN, but they were able to access it independently.
Harkness, of St. Helens, pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property, transferring criminal property, possession with intent to supply testosterone, a Class C drug, and failure to comply with Section 49 by police using the PIN of not to tell her cell phone.
“You have committed serious crimes,” Judge Dean told her at Friday’s sentencing hearing.
“You come from a good, positive and supportive family. You describe yourself as a good nurse, I have no doubt you were.’
Her mother said that if Harkness had not met Blackett, she “would never have been involved in illegal activities,” the court heard.
But the judge told the defendant, “You must have admitted that what you did was wrong.
“You must have acknowledged that you supported Ashley Blackett in his illegal activities. You may have enjoyed the lifestyle he facilitated to some extent, I don’t know.
“It’s hard to understand why you kept behaving like this.” Harkness was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to perform 10 days of rehabilitation activities.
She will be heard again later this year under the Proceeds of Crime Act, where prosecutors will try to recover her ill-gotten gains. At a separate hearing last month, Ashley Blackett was jailed after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possession of a cell phone while in prison.
Christopher Taylor, 34, of no fixed abode, was jailed for seven years and Wesley Blackett, 37, of North George Street, Salford, was jailed for five and a half years. Both men admitted to being involved in the drug plot.