A CHARITY worker who started dealing drugs to pay off debts to his supplier is today (Tuesday, December 4) behind bars.

Jamie Catchpole, 27, owed £2,500 from his own cocaine habit, Teesside Crown Court heard.

His lawyer, Peter Wishlade, said Catchpole "took the soft option and the stupid option" to clear the arrears.

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Police arrested the care home volunteer at a car park in Billingham, near Stockton, on May 11 this year.

Prosecutor Sharon Elves told the court that he was seen acting suspiciously in the passenger seat of a car.

A total of £2,250 worth of cocaine was found in bags and hidden on Catchpole along with £900 in cash.

He immediately admitted he had been dealing, but insisted that he had been doing so for only three months.

Police also found "tick lists" and a number of mobile phones containing incriminating text messages.

Mr Wishlade told the court that Catchpole worked as a volunteer for a charity dealing with dementia.

Judge Peter Armstrong jailed him for two years and three months and ordered the confiscation of the £900.

He said: "It is most unfortunate to see someone like you here, someone who is clearly capable of living a most useful life.

"The problem, of course, has been drug addiction, and those who get involved in taking Class A drugs, I'm afraid, frequently that the cost is more than they can bear.

"They get into considerable debt with serious drug dealers and sometimes the only way out they can see is to become drug dealers themselves."

Catchpole, of Blakeston Road, Billingham, admitted possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply, supplying Class A drugs and acquiring criminal property.