A DRUG dealer caught in an undercover police sting has been given a chance to turn his life around.

Thomas Ralph Humphrey sold the officer £10 deals of heroin on five different occasions between November 1 and 12, 2018.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 37-year-old was given a community order for a burglary just days after he was caught up in the drugs operation.

The defendant was unaware that he had been selling drugs to an undercover police officer until almost nine months later when he was arrested after being formally identified by the man he sold the heroin to.

Humphrey, of Greenbank Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to five charges of being connected with the supply of Class A drugs.

In mitigation, Simon Perkins told the judge that since the imposition of the community order in November 2018 his client had been working hard to free himself of his drug addiction and rebuild ties with his family.

"Humphreys has begun to turn his life around," he said. "He is back in work, things are being done to sort out his housing and get him away from multi-occupancy accommodation in Darlington.

"The important thing is that he is cleaning himself up from the use of heroin with the help of the Probation Service."

Mr Perkins said his client had committed the burglary when he had been released from psychiatric hospital due to his heroin addiction.

He added: "It is over a year since that offence was committed and he has not been in trouble since. Mr Humphrey is wanting to work with probation and continue to turn his life around.

"This is an addicted user of heroin who was doing what he could to continue with his habit. Now he has a good record with complying with the order that was imposed at Durham."

Judge Deborah Sherwin sentenced Humphrey to five concurrent terms of two years in custody, suspended for two years for the drug dealing.

"All of these offences are for selling one wrap of heroin to an undercover police officer," she said. " You are now 37 years old and you do have previous convictions, the most relevant is a conviction in response to a dwelling house burglary when you were made the subject of a community order by the judge.

"If he had known at the time he was sentencing you, that only a couple of days earlier you were dealing heroin, he may have taken a different course of action.

"He didn't know you were dealing, and at that time you didn't know that you were going to be charged with dealing drugs."

Humphrey as also ordered to carry out 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and was made subject of a 12-month drug rehabilitation order.

The judge added: "If you commit any further offences in the next two years, any sentence you get for that offence could result in you serving a further two years."