A MAN on trial for allegedly helping to plan a robbery from his prison cell made phone calls to the convicted thieves in the days running up to the offence and hours after, a court has heard. 

Christopher Doughty, 62, is accused of conspiring with Eriks Valants and Jed Martin to rob the home of Susan Hunt in Leckford, near Stockbridge on March 23, 2020, from his cell at HMP Erlestoke. 

He denies the charge. 

Doughty’s trial at Winchester Crown Court continued for the third day with the cross-examination of professional witnesses John Jack, cell site expert and Katherine Buckland, analyst for Hampshire Police on Friday, November 10.

The court heard that a series of phone calls and texts were made between numbers DC Thomas Bailey believed to belong to Doughty, his granddaughter’s partner Valants, Martin and a “burner” phone.

READ MORE: Christopher Doughty on trial accused of helping plan robbery

In the two weeks leading up to March 30, 2020, 37 incoming calls to Doughty were believed to be from Martin, 35 from the “burner” and 12 from Valants.

Meanwhile, Doughty made 124 calls to Martin, 64 to Valants and 59 to the “burner” in the same period.

Calls and texts were recorded between the trio and the “burner” number from March 16, activating cell sites in Southampton, Eastleigh, Romsey and Stockbridge, as confirmed by Ms Buckland.

On March 22, the night of the robbery, Ms Buckland said: “Both phones (Martin and Valants) connected to cell sites in the Southampton area and weren’t activated again until 11pm, which could mean they were switched off or not in use.”

By comparison, six phone calls were recorded between the “burner” number and the number believed to have belonged to the father of three, Doughty. Call lengths ranged from seconds to four minutes.

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Between 11.31 and 11.59pm multiple contacts were made between Doughty, Martin, Valants and the burner phone.

Contact between Doughty and the “burner” phone continued into the early hours of the morning.

Mrs Hunt dialled 999 at 3.53am on March 23, in an interview with the police she said she was bound to her stairs and had a pillowcase thrown over her head while men ransacked her home

Doughty attempted to call Martin after 4am and successfully called Valants at 4.24am.

Witness John Jack, surveyed the cell signal around HMP Erlestoke, Wiltshire on November 9 and inside Doughty’s cell on November 29, 2021.

Gordon Carse, defence, highlighted that there was a building around 30m from the cell that had been demolished between the robbery and the survey.

Mr Jack admitted that a building could “potentially” negatively impact radio signals so the survey was only a replication of the alleged offence.

In the survey, only one mast was recorded as available within 3m of the middle of the cell while four masts were accessible from a phone 5m and 10m away from the middle of the cell, showing that signal can improve by leaving the prison cell. 

In April 2021, Valants and Martin were jailed for 10 years.

Doughty's trial resumes on Monday, November 13.