A MAN who denies transporting £58,000 worth of cocaine from Lancashire to be sold on the streets of Darlington said he “clearly wasn’t the world’s best drug dealer” - because he'd previously been caught dealing class A drugs.

Ayaz Ismail claimed he travelled more than 100 miles from Preston with his friend for a road trip and had "no idea" about the other man's plan to sell 500g of cocaine to a group of men in a Darlington pub car park last March.

Teesside Crown Court heard the 36-year-old was caught dealing class A drugs to an undercover police officer 14 years ago and he “wasn’t the world’s best drug dealer”.

Ismail is accused alongside Paul Baveridge, 30, Blake Stubbs, 23, Alex Howe, 22, Joseph McPartland, 28. The men from Newton Aycliffe and Bishop Auckland deny their involvement in the conspiracy.

But Daniel Field, 29, of Durham and Oliver Pilkington, 25, of Accrington, admitted being part of the conspiracy at an earlier hearing.

Giving evidence Ismail, of Brixton Road, Preston, claimed he accompanied friend Pilkington on four and-a-half hour road trip from Lancashire to Darlington but never asked the reason behind the visit.

The 36-year-old said he had “no idea” about the drug deal and assumed Pilkington wanted to see his girlfriend who has family in the Darlington area. He added he didn’t know the other men allegedly involved in the drug ring and was unaware he left the North-East in a car containing £14,930.

He said: “I was angry with Oliver. At no point did I know about the drug deal. I never saw the Nike shoe box [which is said to have contained the cocaine].

“When the police pulled us over I was confused about what was going on. I thought it might have been something to do with the car. Oliver said ‘don’t worry, I just have some money in the back, it’s mine’.

“I wasn’t sure why he wanted to go to Darlington, I never asked him. I wasn’t physically working, I wasn’t doing anything that day.”

But during cross-examination, Rebecca Brown, prosecuting, said Ismail’s story “doesn’t make sense” and pointed out 13 years ago he was convicted of selling class A drugs to an undercover police officer.

She said: “The reason you give to why you went to Darlington doesn’t make sense because you are covering up the fact that this was a drive to Darlington to deal drugs. You didn’t ask him why he was driving to Darlington.

“You have a previous conviction for supplying class A drugs in 2005. You provided it to an undercover police officer multiple times over a couple of days in Preston - so you know drug dealers in the area.”

But he said he was “forced” into the drug deal, adding “as you can tell I wasn’t the world’s best drug dealer.”

Ismail of Brixton Road, Preston, denies conspiring to supply cocaine and possession of criminal property amounting to £14,930.

Baveridge and Stubbs, of Pemberton Road, Newton Aycliffe, Howe, of no fixed abode, and McPartland, of Westfield Frosterley, Bishop Auckland, also deny one count of conspiring to supply cocaine.

Field, of Station Road, Durham admitted to being part of the conspiracy and Pilkington of Ley Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to the charge as well as possession of criminal property amounting to £14,930.

The trial continues.