A DRUG dealer claimed he stored cannabis worth up to £14,000 to pay off a debt.
Graeme Emmerson blew his compensation payout on cocaine after a factory accident left him unable to work.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 44-year-old was then “pressured and coerced” by dealers into storing drugs to pay off his mounting bill.
He was caught warehousing 1.4 kilos of the class B drug during a police raid in March.
Emmerson, of Dent Street, Millfield, was also storing a small amount of cocaine for his own use.
He admitted possession with intent to supply in relation to the cannabis and possession of the cocaine. The drugs were not found at his home, but had been stored at another address.
Mr Recorder Andrew Copeland told Emmerson: “You were found with a substantial quantity of cannabis, a little less than a kilo and a half, largely packaged up and ready for supply on the street, worth somewhere between £4,000 and £14,000, depending on how it was split up for sale.
“You pleaded guilty on the basis you were looking after the cannabis for someone else.
“It is plain you knew it was going to be supplied to other people and you were part of that when you took hold of it. In most circumstances you go straight to prison for what you have done.
“Drugs, as you well know, are a scourge on society and won’t be tolerated.”
The judge said Emmerson’s guilty plea, his efforts to stop drug taking and the fact he has an offer of work meant the prison sentence in his case could be suspended.
Emmerson was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and curfew requirements.
Barry Robson, defending, said Emmerson is “thoroughly ashamed and remorseful”.
Mr Robson added: “Pressure, coercion and intimidation were brought to bear by the debt he owed.”