POLICE got to the bottom of things after spotting a man scratching his buttocks suspiciously in the street.

Kevin McDonald's explanation that he was suffering from a rash on his bottom failed to satisfy the officers and he was taken to the station for a strip search.

It was only then that the real explanation for his itchy backside emerged - the 39-year-old had 50 wraps of crack cocaine in two packages wedged between his cheeks, a court was told.

"He kept putting his hand into the rear pocket of his trousers, and when he was asked what he was doing he said that he had a rash," said Michael Bosomworth, prosecuting.

"When he was searched at the police station, between his buttocks were two packages of drugs - 50 wraps of crack cocaine worth £500."

Teesside Crown Court heard that the police officers also found £200 in cash, a knife and a mirror in his pocket.

He said that McDonald, who was stopped in Yarm Road, Stockton, was released on bail, but two months later police found small amounts of drugs and drugs paraphernalia in his home.

They seized two wraps of heroin and some cannabis resin, and £335 in cash.

McDonald, of St Cuthbert's Road, Stockton, was jailed for three years after he admitted possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, on February 5, and also possession of heroin and cannabis resin at his home, on April 30.

He was also ordered to pay £623 costs.

The court heard that McDonald had been minding the crack cocaine for not more than two hours, and that the cash had come from car trading deals.

Judge David Bryant told him: "People who choose to involve themselves in the drugs business, whether they are paid cash for it, have debts relieved or rewarded with drugs, makes no difference.

"They should expect a substantial prison sentence."