A man forced into storing drugs after turning to a loan shark for financial help started dealing to make extra cash.

A stash of cocaine, cannabis and ketamine was recovered from Andrew Appleton's property when he attempted to commit suicide, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 49-year-old initially started off acting as a ‘warehouseman’ for a drug dealer before selling the Class A and B drugs himself.

Ian West, prosecuting, said: “There clearly came a time when he realised he could make money by not only looking after drugs for other people.

“He was clearly a warehouseman but clearly decided at some point that he would be able to sell drugs as well as warehousing them.

“In one of his text messages, he was complaining that someone was taking ‘his customers’ away from him.”

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The court heard how 12kg of cannabis, worth up to £48,000, was recovered from the defendant’s Middlesbrough home.

Officers also seized 8.53 grammes of cocaine, worth up to £850, and 248g of ketamine.

Appleton, of Cedar Terrace, Port Clarence, near Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to three charges of possession with intent to supply cocaine, cannabis and ketamine. He was also found guilty for three charges of supplying the same three types of drugs following a trial.

The Northern Echo: Andrew AppletonAndrew Appleton (Image: Cleveland Police)

Defence counsel Paul Newcombe said his client fears for his safety after police seized all the drugs from his home and had the ‘weight of the world on him’ while he was in custody.

He added: “He is genuinely frightened in jail because the way these drugs were taken away was when he tried to take his own life and the police swooped in cleared out the entire warehouse and he tells me that some people have not forgiven him for losing a large amount of drugs.”

Appleton struggled to contain his emotions throughout the hearing, saying: “I just want to be back with my kids and grandkids. I just want to get my life back on track.”

Judge Jonathan Carroll sentenced the defendant to three years in custody for all charges which took place over a two-month period around January 2021.

He said: “I’m prepared to accept that you became involved in drug dealing through the pressure of other people, you had borrowed money from a loan shark and tried to set up your own home.

“Having borrowed that money, you became a target for more sophisticated criminals and they used you to warehouse their drugs.

“There after you began to engage in your own street-level dealing of drugs.”

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