A DRUG dealer who was found by police with cannabis worth up to £2,500 in his car has been spared a jail sentence after a judge praised his “excellent” references.

Several references were handed to Recorder William Lowe on behalf of Dale Brockhurst who had brought a large holdall into the dock at Teesside Crown Court with him, in expectation that he would be immediately jailed.

Prosecuting, Deborah Sherwin said it was 12.40am on February 15 last year when police stopped Brockhurst's silver BMW vehicle in the Northallerton area. They noticed a strong smell of cannabis and found a number of bags of a “green herbal substance”.

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A further search of the car in daylight hours revealed more bags of cannabis along with scales for measuring the drug.

Police also searched 25-year-old Brockhurst's home and found a small amount of a drug known as M-Cat.

The cannabis seized amounted to just under half a kilo and had a street value of between £2,000 and £2,500, she said.

Brockhurst admitted possession of a class B drug with intent to supply and simple possession.

James Fenny, mitigating, sought to persuade the judge that Brockhurst would not be back before the court again.

He said he had turned to drug dealing after fearing he would lose his job.

“He is genuinely sorry and has had this hanging over him like a dark cloud for a long time,” the barrister said.

“He will comply with any orders from the court and will do his best to put something back into the community.”

Recorder Lowe said Brockhurst, of Leazes Road, Leeming Bar, had clearly been dealing in cannabis, but had continued in employment since his arrest.

He added: “I have not often seen so many excellent references from people who you have worked for and those you have known.”

The judge suspended a 12 month jail sentence on Brockhurst for a year and told him he would do 300 hours unpaid work in the community.

He said: “If you fail to do that you will be brought back before this court and be compelled to serve an an immediate prison sentence.”