A former Bedford jail inmate from Watford was jailed for four years yesterday for trying to smuggle cannabis, alcohol, tobacco and a mobile phone into the prison just a few weeks after he had been released.

Lee Hocking, 28, of Cold Harbour House, Gadswell Close, Watford, drove to the prison with his girlfriend and threw a parcel over the wall, St Albans Crown Court heard.

The package was found by prison officers patrolling the perimeter fence and was handed to the police. Checks were made on the package and a DNA link was made to Hocking from the mobile phone.

Prosecutor Will Noble said the officers found the package at around 6.50pm on May 8 last year. When it was opened they found cannabis, six miniature bottles of spirits, tobacco and a mobile phone.

After the DNA match was made, Automatic Number Plate Recognition put Hocking's girlfriend's car in the area of the prison shortly before the package was found. A distinctive t-shirt similar to the one worn by the man throwing the package was found at Hocking's home.

When questioned, Hocking told the police he was serving a suspended sentence and would have been foolish to put himself in jeopardy, having only been released from jail in April last year.

Hocking pleaded guilty to conveying prohibited articles into a jail.

He was in breach of a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years passed on August 15, 2012, for possessing 23 grams of cocaine with intent to supply. He also had to be re-sentenced for breaching a community order that was passed on December 29, 2012, for possessing 21 wraps of cocaine.

Defence Barrister Henry Vallance said Hocking had been addicted to cocaine for many years. He had dealt drugs in the past to pay off debts to a dealer. He said Hocking, who works at a garage, has a partner and three children.

Judge Stephen Warner jailed him for a total of four years telling him: "You have been given repeated chances and you have not only not taken them, you have also offended again."

The judge said deterrent sentences had to be passed against those who try to take prohibited articles into prison.