A COCAINE user turned to dealing the class A drug to help pay off his own spiralling debts to those who supplied him, a court heard.

Dennis Martin Brown’s activities came to light after he was pulled over in his BMW, on October 12, 2019.

Durham Crown Court was told he initially gave false details, until an officer came forward to say he knew him.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said £180 was found in his trouser pocket and a similar amount was recovered from a side pocket of the car, along with a carrier bag containing a snap bag holding 352mg of cocaine and two mobile phones.

Brown told the officers the drugs were his and he forgot they were there.

Mr Dodds said police then went to his flat from where they found seven more bags containing about 10g of cocaine with an estimated street value of £1,000.

“Of more concern were the messages on his phone indicative of drug dealing, spanning February 2018 and March 2019.”

Mr Dods said they were the “classic type” messages from customers to drug dealers with replies to match.

The 28-year-old defendant, of High Shaws, Brandon, previously denied possessing a class A drug with intent to supply.

But, with a trial looming later this month, he, last week, changed his plea and admitted the charge.

Judge James Adkin noted that a pre-sentence probation report highlighted that the defendant was, “otherwise gainfully employed.”

Mark Styles, in mitigation, agreed, but said: “He got himself into an awful lot of trouble in 2018/19, having been on cocaine sporadically and building up a debt to others.

“What happened, when it reached something like £3,000 to £4,000, there were threats unless he began to sell drugs for other people there would be repercussions for him and his family.

“He, basically, got into a complete mess and he seems to have sorted it out.”

Mr Styles pointed to some “pretty solid references” submitted to the court, adding that the defendant now runs his own landscaping business, employing five other people, with long-term work contracts.

Judge Adkin said the problem for the defendant is that the guidelines point to a custodial sentence beyond any that could be suspended.

He said that even though Brown has, “relatively modest previous convictions”, he became involved in selling class A drugs, even in a, “relatively small operation, but on a persistent basis.”

Judge Adkin said even with a discount of 20-per cent for the eventual guilty plea, the prison sentence would be one of 33 months.