A MAN found with a large package of high purity cocaine in his garage was a heavy user of the class A drug at the time, but intended to sell some of his ‘stash’.

Durham Crown Court was told police executing a search warrant at Steven Bell’s home, in Green Crescent, Coxhoe, in October, 2017, came across a set of digital scales, a wrap of crystalline powder, and a larger package containing 240g of cocaine.

Peter Sabistion, prosecuting, said it appeared to have been bought in bulk and was valued at £12,480, but had the potential if cut to bring in up to £48,000 in smaller deals.

Bell’s finger prints were on a glass jar and a knife.

He largely remained silent in intermittent police interviews, which was said to have played a part in the delay in the case reaching court.

But he did tell officers that the drugs were his and he used money from the sale of a vehicle to bulk buy.

Mr Sabiston said the drugs recovered were of 91 and 93-per cent purity and would have had to be adulterated for street sale purposes.

Bell, now 33, indicated his guilt at an early stage in court proceedings and admitted possessing a class A drug with intent to supply, at a plea hearing on May 1.

Adam Birkby, mitigating, described it as, “a relatively unsophisticated business”, with an absence of phone evidence containing messages from suppliers or clients.

“It shows the defendant’s naivety and lack of commercial acumen, being prepared to supply high-purity cocaine. He did not have the nous, with no evidence of cutting agents and such-like.

“He was a regular user of cocaine at the time and was only trying to sell on some of the stuff he used.”

Mr Birkby said Bell was of previous good character and was a well-respected “hard worker”, having been employed as a council heating engineer before setting out to establish his own plumbing and heating business.

Since his arrest Bell was said to have taken steps to address his addiction.

“He bitterly regrets his actions and apologises to the courts, his family and employers.

“He knows he’s let a great many people down. He’s made a dreadful mistake, totally out of character.”

Judge Ray Singh, who read a number of character references forwarded to the court, said: “This was an enterprise where you were intending to make a significant financial gain.

“I accept it was a case where no drugs had been sold as it was early in the enterprise, but you had intended to supply these drugs, as there was almost a quarter of a kilogram, although there was no evidence of supply.”

He imposed a three-year prison sentence and set in motion proceeds of crime proceedings, with a further court hearing scheduled on September 24.