A LEADING player in the North-East drugs scene was jailed for ten years yesterday.

Steven Davies, 34, of Weaverthorpe, Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday, where he admitted offering to supply £31,000 worth of cocaine to undercover National Crime Squad detectives.

Businessman Davies, described in court as having contacts with drug dealers at "an international level", was brought to justice after he was befriended by officers.

Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said the officers pretended to be "Manchester villains", and visited Davies at his business, Kwik Clean, in Borough Road, Middlesbrough, last year.

During nine months of investigation, the officers discussed drugs with Davies, videotaped his movements, and recorded conversations.

Mr Robertson said: "He told the officers he could get a kilo of cocaine for £31,000, and that he could get up to five kilos after that." The deal was agreed.

An officer was taken to a safe house in Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, by Paul Jennis, 20, of Oxford Road, Middlesbrough, who handed him the kilo of white powder, which had been stored under a bed, in a black sack.

Jennis has previously been sentenced to three years' probation for his part in the incident.

Tests showed the drugs not to be cocaine, but amphetamine, and the officers went back to complain.

Davies said he believed the drugs to be cocaine, and offered to return £1,000 to the officers, which he said was his profit on the deal.

Jennifer Kershaw QC, for Davies, told the court her client was not the big player painted by the prosecution.

She said: "In nine months of investigation, of being videotaped, and having his home and premises under surveillance, this was the only charge they could get. If there was any more evidence of dealing, they would have shown us it."

Judge Peter Fox ordered the destruction of the drugs. Davies faces the seizure of his assets