A FATHER who hid part of a stash of cocaine in a mint tin under the bed of one of his children was today (Friday, May 2) jailed for 12 months.

Ian Strong, 40, claimed he had been coerced into acting as a delivery man by a drug dealer whose cocaine he had been caught with several years ago.

Passing sentence at Durham Crown Court, Recorder Ian Atherton said he accepted that Strong had played a “lesser role” storing and delivering the drugs, but “anyone involved in the chain is at risk of losing their liberty”.

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Martin Towers, prosecuting, said officers executed a search warrant at Strong’s house in Goodyear Crescent, on the Sherburn Road Estate, Durham City, on January 8.

Officers found 12g of cocaine with a street value of £720 concealed in three locations in the house, including 10g divided into equal packets Iin a mint tun under a child’s bed. They also recovered a dealer’s list from the house with a list of customers.

Strong was cautioned in respect of child neglect, because there were two children, aged one and six years old, living in the house at the time.

The court was told Strong had 54 previous convictions, mostly for theft.

But, of significance, he was jailed for three years at Canterbury Crown Court in May 2008 for importing cocaine into the country. Strong was arrested at the Port of Dover, where he was found with the drugs concealed in his trousers.

Chris Morrison, mitigating, said Strong had stayed out of trouble after his release from jail, but last November “literally bumped into” the man he had smuggled the cocaine for.

He said: “He (Strong) wishes to this day that he hadn’t, because the man effectively behind his last conviction took the view that because he was in possession of his drugs he still owed him for it.”

The unnamed dealer offered Strong the option of working for him to repay the debt, with Strong taking the “path of least resistance”.

Mr Morrison said although some of the drugs were found in the room of the children, there was no question any children were exposed to the drugs.

Strong pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to possessing a Class A drug with the intent to supply.