A MAN found with a large package of high purity cocaine in his garage must pay £22,200 in a proceeds of crime settlement.

Steven Bell, 33, was given a three-year prison sentence at Durham Crown Court in July, after admitting possessing the class A drug with intent to supply at an earlier hearing.

Proceedings were then put in place for a proceeds of crime inquiry as to the amount he benefited from his crime and his assets to achieve a confiscation.

The court was told police executing a search warrant at his home, in Green Crescent, Coxhoe, in October, 2017, found digital scales, a wrap of crystalline powder, and a larger package containing 240g of very high-purity cocaine.

Prosecutor Peter Sabiston said the drugs, which appeared to have been bought in bulk, were valued at £12,480, with the potential if cut to raise up to £48,000 if sold in smaller deals.

Bell told officers he used money from the sale of a vehicle to buy in bulk.

The defence conceded it was, “a relatively unsophisticated business”, describing the defendant as naive, with, “a lack of commercial acumen”.

Bell was said to be a regular cocaine user at the time and would sell some of his stash to help cover the cost of his own habit.

The case came back to court for the crime proceeds settlement hearing this week and a figure of £22,200 was agreed as Bell’s ‘benefit’ from his activity.

He was given three months to pay that amount, which the court heard is to be met from part of the proceeds of a house sale.