A DRUG dealer was caught with 97 per cent purity cocaine after he was spotted by police carrying out a street deal.

Joseph Banks ran off after officers were alerted to his suspicious behaviour by concerned residents in the King Street area of Stockton.

The 29-year-old ran to a nearby property on Norton Road where he proceeded to throw packages of high purity cocaine out of the window.

Teesside Crown Court heard how officers recovered one package containing almost 30 grams of 97 per cent purity cocaine and another 120 gram package at 94 per cent purity.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said Banks', pictured below, fingerprints were discovered on the package thrown out of the window and a search of the property located another package which had his fingerprints – both inside and outside.

The Northern Echo:

The recovered cocaine has a bulk value of £20,000, she said.

"The defendant was arrested and in interview he said he was in the vicinity of the suspicious vehicle, he saw a car speeding into the area and saw two or three men get out and he was concerned about it because of problems with a former girlfriend which is why he ran away."

Miss Masters said Banks had nine convictions including two for possession of drugs but none for drug dealing,

Banks, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply following his arrest in September 2017.

His barrister, Gary Wood said his client had not been charged until two years after his arrest and had been worried about handing himself in fearing he would end up in custody at the peak of the Covid epidemic.

He added: "In relation to this offence, he accepts that he wasn't truthful with the police. He only became involved due to his own cocaine addiction.

"He had a very significant cocaine addiction which led to him becoming involved with others to move the drugs around to street level and he got access to drugs in return."

Jailing Banks to three years in custody, Judge Jonathan Carroll said the purity of the cocaine was unusually high and would be worth considerably more on the streets.

He added: "Class A drugs have a devastating, insidious, impact on communities, mostly on the most vulnerable in society.

"You have played your part in increasing the scope to get more victims and it creates more harm in those communities."