A former drug addict who was caught selling crack cocaine to an undercover police officer on three separate occasions has been spared jail.

Ryan Gosling, from Stockton, pleaded guilty to three counts of supplying class A drugs.

The 24-year-old was arrested following an operation by Cleveland Police, which saw officers trying to target an area of Stockton notorious for drug dealing and related problems.

Gosling, of Tarring Street, sold £20 worth of crack cocaine to an undercover on three separate occasions in April 2021.

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Prosecuting, Ian West told the court he had made the deals on April 14, 16 and 17 last year, and added when he was arrested he also had a quantity of cannabis in his possession.

Teesside Crown Court heard earlier this week that Gosling had become a drug addict after becoming homeless due to the deaths of his mother and grandmother and had started selling drugs to fund his habit.

However, the court also heard that since his arrest he had managed to get away from the area and was now in a relationship with a new partner, with whom he has a child. He has been working for seven months to support his family and is "ashamed" of his previous behaviour. 

Judge Paul Watson agreed to give him a second chance and gave him a 21-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

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During a hearing on Friday, the Recorder for Middlesbrough said: “Until about 2016 you had lived a relatively blameless life. You were not involved in drug misuse to any great extent. You didn’t develop a drug habit until after two tragic events in your life, the effect of which left you homeless.

“As a result you found yourself living in a house in Stockton with other occupants who were themselves drug users and addicts. That was the background to the offences against which you are about to be sentenced."

Deciding to suspend the prison sentence, he said: "Sending you to prison today would no doubt reverse all the progress you have made over that time and it is likely you would be back to square one by the time you are released.”

He added: “If I am making a mistake in giving you a chance you know what awaits you if you come back in front of me.”

Gosling will have to carry out 35 rehabilitation activity days, undertake 200 hours of unpaid work in the community and will be subjected to a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am each night.

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