THE report of a car found apparently abandoned at the entrance of a farmyard led to the downfall of a drug dealer, a court heard.

Police were informed after the vehicle was found with doors open and windows smashed at the farmyard entrance in the Bishop Auckland area.

Durham Crown Court heard that officers found 17 grams of herbal cannabis, worth about £100, in the car and so spoke to the vehicle owner Mathew Leng, who denied being involved in the supply of the drug.

Louise Harrison, prosecuting, said he claimed he simply “loaned” cannabis to friends when he was interviewed.

But examination of his social media messaging revealed him arranging sales of cannabis.

Miss Harrison said he even posted a photograph showing a bundle of cash notes next to various wraps of cannabis as if showing his wares, in January.

She said there appeared to be a “significant” amount of money, as the bundles featured what looked like £5 notes wrapped in £10 notes, while there were approximately 30 packages.

Alongside the image, Leng made a disparaging comment about Sainsbury’s, as he had previously worked for the store company.

Despite his denials to police at the time, 25-year-old Leng, of Oakley Manor, West Auckland, admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of cannabis, when he appeared before magistrates last month.

The case was committed for sentence to the crown court, where Amrit Jandoo, for the defendant, said it was a progression for Leng from being an habitual user of cannabis to helping “facilitate” others seeking the drug.

Mr Jandoo said Leng eventually offered cannabis to people who were seeking supply, as he could source the drug, “but he didn’t push it”.

Explaining the photo and accompanying comment posted by the defendant, Mr Jandoo said the money was made up of £1,700 from a pay-out from Sainsbury’s after Leng lost his job in the store bakery.

Mr Jandoo said Leng has moved on since the offending behaviour and has been working for a marquee events company as an events planner recently, a job that would be placed in jeopardy if he was sentenced to immediate custody.

But, imposing a 12-month prison sentence, Judge Christopher Prince told Leng: “For about six months you set yourself up as an online drug dealer, plain and simple.

“You would supply people to order, as and when they wanted cannabis, to make money for yourself.

“It’s said you were only supplying friends. In my experience, drug dealers have an awful lot of friends.

“Who you supplied to, friends, acquaintances or enemies, drugs do the same harm, but that wasn’t your concern.

“Your concern was to make money for yourself.”

He said the fact he was unwilling to suspend the sentence should send the message to drug dealers of the consequences of their trade.

Judge Prince also ordered forfeiture and destruction of the recovered drugs.