A DRUG dealer caught with more than 100g of skunk cannabis has been spared jail for a second time.

Steven Vest appeared at Durham Crown Court on Thursday, August 8, to be sentenced for one count of possession of a class B drug with intent to supply.

He was found with the drugs in a number of bags in his car on October 15 of last year along with a mobile phone and drug paraphernalia.

When interviewed by police he told them they would find evidence of him selling the drug to his friends on his phone and told them he "sells f*****g green."

The 36-year-old said he had been addicted to the drug since he was 12 and sold it to feed his own habit.

Joanne Kidd, prosecuting, said: "His vehicle was stopped by police on October 15 of last year and during the conversation it became apparent that there was a strong smell of cannabis.

"After a search 118 grams of skunk cannabis was discovered in a number of different bags."

Vest, of Tennyson Street, Chester-Le-Street, refused to give police the pass code to his mobile phone and his solicitor, Helen Towers, said his reason for doing so was because it contained personal photographs.

Judge Jonathan Carroll, sentencing, said: "The level of dealing is difficult for me to judge, you say you're dealing to friends to fund your habit.

"You may have had some embarrassing material on your phone but that does not even come close to cutting the mustard.

"You have previous convictions for the exact same behaviour.

"There is a world of difference between skunk and cannabis, you have been addicted since you were 12-years-old and when you peddle it to other people you suck them into cannabis use.

"Skunk can cause paranoia, depression, anxiety, it actually messes up peoples lives and that in my books crosses the custody threshold."

Vest was given a 20-week custodial sentence suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and attend 15 drug rehabilitation activity days.

Judge Carroll added: "If you commit no further offences then you will not have to serve that prison sentence.

"I lock people up if they come back to me, if you breach that you go to prison. Simple as that."