A DOORSTEP seller of “festival-type” drugs is behind bars for the first time after police pulled up his Mercedes car while he was making delivery runs.

Durham Crown Court, sitting at Newcastle, was told Paul Webster turned to selling ecstasy, ketamine and cannabis after falling into debt with dealers through his own use of the drugs.

His lucrative operation came to a halt, however, when he was flagged down by police in Durham city centre, at 6.45pm on March 6, last year.

Phillip Morley, prosecuting, said a search of the vehicle uncovered packaged quantities of the three drugs, plus £670 in cash.

Mr Morley said a police expert who examined the recovered substances said it was consistent with street-level dealing and placed a total value on the drugs of £1,970.

Analysis of Webster’s phone revealed messages consistent with drug dealing, including a dealer’s list.

A recovered note referred to 583 tablets, of which 268 were sold, leaving 315 remaining.

Webster told police the drugs were bought for £500, “for the festival season”.

The 41-year-old defendant, of Hawthorne Park, Brandon, admitted three counts of possessing drugs, two at class ‘B’ and one of class ‘A’, with intent to supply.

Webster has only one previous conviction for an unrelated matter, plus a caution for possessing with intent to supply cannabis, in 2014.

Tony Davis, in mitigation, presented a number of character references to the court on his client’s behalf.

He also referred to a probation report on Webster and his background.

“I have to concede that for a period of time before being caught, and it was a blessing for him, he was caught in the circumstances where he got himself into downward spiral of addiction.

“At a time he was incapacitated, without the ability to work due to a hernia operation, after which he binged on drugs, and he was very quickly preyed upon and exploited by those very much more sophisticated.”

Mr Davis said on arrest Webster “did not prevaricate” and came clean to police, since when he has striven to change his life, learning to become a class one heavy goods driver and steering clear of drugs.

Judge James Adkin said: “The drugs recovered when your black Mercedes was stopped by police are consistent with you being a mobile supplier of recreational drugs, particularly to those living in the city centre.

“But, I note, you don’t have significant previous convictions and you have taken steps to address your life.

“You’re a hard worker in good employment enabling me to pass sentence down the range for such offences.”

He imposed an 18-month prison sentence, but said it could not be suspended given the level of dealing involved.