AN addict returned to dealing to meet the cost of his drug habit, a court heard.

But after his home was raided and his low-level dealing came to light, it left Paul Tate at risk of a mandatory seven-year prison sentence.

Durham Crown Court was told the property in Davy Street, Ferryhill, was visited by police armed with a search warrant, on July 3, 2019, and quantities of heroin and cocaine were seized.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said Tate confirmed both drugs belonged to him and two phones also recovered by police revealed messages consistent with him supplying for about a year.

He agreed he would habitually “sell a couple of grams” to cover the cost of his own habit and agreed there was evidence of that on his phone.

Tate, 51, admitted possessing with intent to supply heroin and possession of both drugs.

The court was told his “long” criminal record includes two offences of possessing a class A drug with intent to supply for which he served past prison sentences of up to four years.

Miss Waugh said as this is his third offence of class A drug supply he falls to receive a mandatory sentence starting at seven years, with a 20-per cent deduction for his guilty pleas, unless the court felt it “unjust” to do so.

Duncan McReddie, for Tate, told the court: “I would say there are circumstances here to pass less than that period.

“He was arrested, interviewed and made admissions in July 2019, 21 months ago, and has since lived with what is going to happen to him, a delay not of his making.

“It’s something of a cliché, but: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’

“The degree of candour shown to police is quite remarkable, acknowledging he provided small amounts to other well-known users in order to facilitate his own use.”

Mr McReddie added that Tate has since sought treatment and is living a much more settled lifestyle.

But Judge Ray Singh said his dealing went on over a, “sustained period” and all to, “sustain his own habit.”

“You, more than anyone, know the misery and the impact on people’s lives of that drug, but you were prepared to supply it to others.

“In essence, it meant you were able to get free drugs.”

He said he could see no reason not to impose the mandatory seven-year sentence, with a 20-per cent deduction for his guilty plea, leaving a resulting sentence of five-years and 220 days.