A DRUG dealer was observed hiding his “stash” in a farm field by police surveillance officers, a court heard.

Liam Michael Murray was arrested half-an-hour later when he returned to the field, off White Lea Road, near Crook, County Durham, to collect the carrier bag from undergrowth near a gate post, on the evening of June 14.

Durham Crown Court was told examination of the carrier revealed it contained 13 small bags filled with a white powdery substance, which tests proved to be cocaine.

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A further wrap of cocaine was found with some cannabis in Murray’s Audi A3 car, parked at the entrance to the field.

John Gillette, prosecuting, said Murray had £1,400 on him when he was searched and a further £140 was found at his home in nearby Billy Row, from where three smaller amounts of cannabis were also recovered.

His two mobile phones were checked and one contained what appeared to be a dealer’s list, with names and prices, while text messages were “indicative of requests for the supply” of drugs.

Mr Gillette said the recovered cocaine was valued at £350, while the cannabis had a street value of £8.

The court was told 22-year-old Murray, of Stanley Way, has no previous convictions, and only a single warning for a non-drug-related offence.

But, making his first crown court appearance in the case today (Friday November 22), he admitted charges of possessing a class A drug with intent to supply and simple possession of a class B drug.

Stephen Duffield, mitigating, said: “It’s not often that someone comes before a court for the first time for something as serious as this.

“But he knows it’s to be a sentence of custody of some length.

“The reality is he bought cocaine with a view to supplying it, in the main to his friends, allowing him, as a cocaine user, to keep a couple of bags for himself, financed by the sale to others.

“There’s no suggestion he went looking for people to supply to. He only supplied those who contacted him.”

Jailing him for three years, Judge Christopher Prince told Murray: “It’s evident, from your mobile phone which was seized, that you were engaged in drug dealing.

“You can’t simply claim to be acting as a delivery man for someone else. You were supplying to others.”

A proceeds of crime hearing will be staged on March 28, in a bid to formally confiscate the £1,540 seized from Murray.