A PRISONER who tried to smuggle crack cocaine worth £2million into Britain has complained about the “disgraceful” wages he receives at a prison in Sussex.

Vincent Holyoake, previously of De Cham Road, St Leonards, is currently eight years into a 17-year sentence.

He is serving his sentence at Ford Prison near Arundel – where he said the wages he gets for working are lower than at most other prisons.

He said this makes it is impossible for him to visit his family on the train during days outside of prison or for “overnight release”.

And he moaned that nearby Arundel was dull – because he had no cash.

In a letter published in this month’s Inside Time magazine – for people serving sentences – Holyoake said: “Take the pay structures in the different categories of prison within the estate.

“In a category B prison (Swaleside – in the Isle of Sheppey, Kent) in 2005 I was earning £20 per week.

“In a category C prison (Maidstone, Kent) earnings were around £15 per week.

“But here at Ford, a category D prison, the average weekly wage is £9.50.

“From that wage £1 per week is taken for the television which I have been paying for the past seven years, which leaves £8.50 per week out of which I have to maintain contact with family and friends on an overpriced phone system and make minimal purchases from an increasingly overpriced canteen.”

Holyoake, 53, who was arrested at the Channel Tunnel after he attempted to drive the drugs into Britain in 2004, added: “There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that claims to be promoting resettlement but has practises in place which make it hard, for long-term prisoners especially.

“It goes without saying that I cannot afford day or overnight release, which is such a fundamental part of resettlement.

“The train fare to my home town is £15 for a day return and train fares are set to rise again.

“There are no buses running anywhere near the prison and the nearest town is a 30 minute walk away.

“I could take a day release and walk to the local town, but then what do I do once I get there?

“I’ve got no money to buy anything and how many times can you visit a small town and just sit on a bench watching the world go by before you come to the attention of the local police?

“Surely if successful resettlement is what the prison system wants to provide then the first thing they should do is scrap the prisoners’ pay structure and come up with a better one.”

The Ministry of Justice yesterday declined to comment.

Nobody from Ford Prison was available for comment.

What do you think? Is Holyoake right? Email letters@theargus.co.uk