A DRUG dealer caught with £10,000 worth of cash and jewellery had travelled to a North East town to sell drugs after being threatened with 'murder'.

Lewis Heywood had tried to sell some cannabis to a teenager near Middlesbrough railway station but instead of taking him up on the offer the publicly-spirited boy kept an eye on the defendant for several minutes before calling the police.

The youngster then followed Heywood to the station and alerted the British Transport Police when he got onto a Manchester-bound train, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 21-year-old was arrested on the Trans Pennine service before it pulled away from the station.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said the defendant was carrying £6,470 cash and two gold bracelets he had bought in the town worth £3,600.

Mr Soppitt said the defendant told police he travelled to Middlesbrough to buy a watch for his grandfather.

The court said Heywood has previous convictions for possession with intent to supply drugs and had received a suspended sentence.

Heywood, of Epsom Avenue, Trafford, Manchester, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of criminal property following his arrest on October 2019.

Shada Mellor, in mitigation, said her client was operating under duress after racking up drug debts to fund his cannabis use.

"He has been intimidated and coerced into committing his offence by others," she said. "There was a text message located on his phone from an unsaved number saying 'I'm going to murder you, if you are ignoring me' there were also several missed calls.

"He said he became involved with people who distribute drugs as he had been smoking cannabis. He had started using cannabis at 13 and as he get further into his teenage years he started smoking more.

"He owed a debt to these individuals and in order to pay that debt he was told he needed to sell drugs."

Miss Mellor said Heywood was arrested and his debt kept rising.

She added: "After a while they told him they had another job for him and that was the offence he is here for. He went to Middlesbrough purely on their instruction.

"These people have been making threats, not just him personally, but also towards his family."

Judge Paul Watson QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, ordered the young people by given a £200 reward for his publicly-spirited actions and receive a Chief Constable's commendation.

Sentencing Heywood to nine months in custody, he said: "You came over from Manchester to Middlesbrough, I accept you were acting under instruction from other people who you owed money to.

"The fact is, that when you were stopped, you had nearly £10,000 worth of cash and criminal property on you."

The court ordered the cash and bracelets be seized.

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