UNDERCOVER police watched as dozens of people called at a house to buy heroin, a court heard.

Officers saw up to 15 callers a day visiting the home of Wayne English, in Walker Drive, Bishop Auckland, during the surveillance operation in the last week of July.

Durham Crown Court was told police moved in on August 1 as 27-year-old English returned home carrying a package.

Tim Parkin, prosecuting, said on seeing the officers approaching, English threw away the package and fled.

He said: "It was later recovered and found to contain 3.2 grammes of heroin. The clear indication being that he had been out to get new supplies to sell."

Mr Parkin said a search of the house revealed a trace of heroin and four bottles of methadone, which were not legally held.

English, who admitted possession of a class A drug and possession with intent to supply, was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

The court heard he had previous convictions for drugs offences, burglary and acts of violence.

Mark Giuliani, mitigating, said: "He comes from an estate and he fell into that spiral of petty crime to feed his addiction that we hear about so often in these courts. He only supplied drugs to other people that he knew to be fellow addicts, and it was only done on a small-time basis."

Mr Giuliani said: "He has sought help to kick the habit and has been free of drugs while in custody."

Jailing English, Judge Richard Lowden told him: "A lot of people were coming to your home and were clearly being supplied with drugs.

"I don't know what, if any, profit you made from this, but you were facilitating the supply of drugs to a wide circle."

Judge Lowden said there was no alternative to custody, because of English's "bad record".