A HEROIN user who helped an undercover police officer score some drugs has avoided prison as he continues to fight addiction.

Robert Skyvington was befriended by the officer while he was working in and around Darlington town centre to identify drug dealers.

The addict was persuaded to take the officer to pick up some heroin when they bumped into each other on Salisbury Terrace in the town and the undercover officer handed him £25 to ‘score’ his drugs.

The 55-year-old, who has been a heroin addict for more than 30 years, took the officer to an address on Barningham Street where he bought a deal of heroin for both of them in December 2018, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said: "The undercover officer gave him the money and the defendant went to pick up the drugs – that's count one being concerned in the supply of heroin."

Miss Atkinson said the defendant was later arrested and charged with the offence and during interview told officers he had been a heroin user for 30 years.

While Skyvington was on bail, he stole £50 from a cashpoint which had been left in the slot.

She added: "The second offence occurred on October 12, 2018, at the ATM at Sainsbury's on Duke Street, Darlington.

"The victim had withdrawn the £50 but forgotten to take it with him, when he came back he found it had gone.

"It was subsequently discovered that the defendant had taken the money."

The court heard how the defendant had previous convictions for drug offences, theft and burglary, and was serving a suspended sentence at the time of the drug purchase.

Skyvington, of Chandos Street, pleaded to guilty the concerned in the supply of heroin and theft of £50.

His counsel, Simon Perkins, said the defendant had made great steps in dealing with his heroin addiction since his arrest more than 18-months ago.

He added: "This was an undercover officer, and it's the nature of heroin addiction that at times of needing to satisfy that addiction that people's perceptions are reduced and their minds are occupied with scoring.

"The undercover officer targeted those with the appearance and demeanour of class A drug user. He was just doing his job, relying on people with real addictions to get drugs."

Judge Deborah Sherwin sentenced Skyvington to 16 month, suspended for two years for the drug offence and a seven day suspended sentence for the theft.

The judge, who oversaw the defendant's previous drug treatment order, added: "You were trying to make progress, sometimes it was two steps forward and one step back, because there was a lot going on in your life at the time.

"I'm impressed by how much you have managed to improve your life in the last few months."