A CAFÉ boss is spending Christmas behind bars after being caught dealing crack cocaine on the streets of Sunderland.
Former soldier Catherine Budge had 23 wraps of the Class A drug hidden in her bra and waistband, when police stopped the car she was in, last September.
The 42-year-old, who was dealing to support her £10,000 per year heroin habit, denied possession with intent to supply, but was convicted by a jury after a trial.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Mr Recorder William Lowe, QC, jailed the mum, who has always held down a legitimate job, for two years.
The judge told her: “The case is put on the basis you were dealing to fund your addiction to heroin. I cannot and do not ignore the guidelines. There must be an immediate custodial sentence.”
Prosecutor Stephen Duffied told the court Budge had been the passenger in a Vauxhall Corsa that was pulled over by police on Hendon Road. The court heard a police drugs dog was called to the scene and showed an interest in the vehicle, but no drugs were found.
Mr Duffield added: “Mrs Budge was taken to the police station where an intimate search was carried out.
“Thirty wraps were found concealed in her bra and waitstband, in four packages.
“On examination, seven were empty.
“The others contained crack cocaine, a Class A drug.”
The court heard the drugs would have been worth about £230 on the streets.
Budge, of Eloise Close, Dawdon, told detectives she would occasionally use cocaine and had a heroin habit costing her £50 per day, or £10,000 per year.
Mr Duffield said: “She was, in effect, a street dealer.”
Christopher Rose, defending, said Budge, who was introduced to heroin during the course of an abusive marriage, is now drug free and is the manager of a coffee shop.
Mr Rose said: “She has a stable address and stable home life, part of which involves caring for her children.
“She will continue to make the progress she has done since these offences were committed over a year ago.
“She is not a sophisticated drug dealer. On the crown’s case she is a street dealer.”
The court heard Budge used drugs to help her deal with the death of her mother.
Mr Rose added; “The tragedy of this case is there are so many features about her which fly in the face of someone with a drug addiction.
“She has spent her life always in work and was in the army between the ages of 17 and 20.”