Karen Cosford had sex with inmate Brian McBride in the health centre at the prison where he was a trusted cleaner.
She wrote affectionate text messages to him on a mobile phone, one of several he held illegally, telling him he was “always in her heart” and even wrote him a love letter in which she described him as her “knight in shining armour”.
After the affair came to light Cosford claimed she was not a willing party to the relationship.
Her claims to have been raped and regularly molested by McBride and that she only continued a sexual relationship with him out of fear after he threatened her and her family by saying her home would be petrol bombed were rejected by a jury at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.
Cosford was unanimously found guilty of misconduct in a public office by engaging in a sexual relationship with McBride, who was jailed for life in 1997 for offences including rape and making a threat to kill.
She was also convicted on two further misconduct charges by neglecting to notify prison authorities McBride had possession of a mobile phone and purchasing telephone top-ups for him.
The 47-year-old, of Marston Walk, Altofts, wept and put her head in her hands as the verdicts were given as did a colleague, health care officer Carolyn Falloon, 50, of Walton, Wakefield, who was also found guilty by the jury on three charges of misconduct.
She was found to have failed to report Cosford’s sexual relationship with the prisoner, failed to notify his possession of a phone and to have purchased mobile phone top-ups for him.
The jury heard Falloon walked in on McBride and Cosford having sex on one occasion but did not report it. Cosford’s husband worked in the jail as a prison officer and Falloon said she did not want to get her colleague into trouble.
She too claimed later she had been threatened by McBride into keeping quiet.
Richard Wright, prosecuting, told the jury at the start of the trial the Crown accepted McBride was manipulative, an accomplished liar and fantasist who portrayed himself as a man of wealth, connected to the underworld.
“But the fact remains that he was a convicted rapist serving a life sentence in a high security prison and these defendants were employed by the prison service in a position of special trust and responsibility in which they were trained to maintain appropriate professional standards when dealing with prisoners.”
Instead, he told the court, the three women, who used his cell for smoking rather than go outside, entered into a corrupt relationship with the prisoner and, in the case of Cosford, who had 15 years service at Wakefield, was drawn into a more intimate friendship with him.
Another prison nurse, Jacqueline Flynn, 46, of The Leys, South Kirkby was also found guilty of failing to notify prison authorities about the sexual relationship or that McBride had a phone.
The jury cleared a further prison nurse David Sunderland, 49 of Millcroft, Lofthouse, Wakefield on one charge of misconduct in a public office alleging he also failed to report that McBride had a phone.
The three women will be sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on Monday along with another colleague Kevin Wilson, 56, of St Michael’s Green, Normanton, Wakefield, who was a prosecution witness at the trial.
He pleaded guilty earlier to three charges of misconduct, by failing to report the sexual relationship, failing to notify that McBride had a mobile phone and by supplying the prisoner with a SiM card for a phone.
Andrew Stubbs QC, for Cosford, told Judge David Hatton QC: “We are not seeking a report in her case. We are aware of the inevitable sentence and will address you as to the length at the sentence hearing.”
Judge Hatton bailed the trio until Monday.