Drug user claimed he found cocaine under a tree

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AN unemployed drug user was found to have cocaine valued at more than £6,000 and £240 cash in his pocket.

Judge Penny Moreland, sitting at Durham Crown Court, expressed surprise at how John Debbage was able to afford his habit.

“He has not worked for six years,” said the judge. “And cocaine is a notoriously expensive drug.

“I am also sceptical of his explanation of finding this package of drugs under a tree.

“It beggars belief that whoever owned the drugs has not apparently made any effort to retrieve them.”

Prosecutor Jane Mitford said police were due to carry out a drugs raid in St Ives Place, Murton, when they saw Debbage in the street.

“He ran and was seen to drop a package,” added Ms Mitford. “The package was found to contain 105g of cocaine with an estimated street value of £6,300, or more if it was cut further.

“Debbage had £240 cash in his pocket.

“He said he found the package under a tree while walking his dog, and the money was profit from buying and selling cars.”

Debbage, 26, of Porter Terrace, Murton, admitted possession of a class A drug.

Martin Scarborough, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Debbage admits he thought the package was cocaine and that is why he picked it up.

“He has had his problems with cocaine and cannabis, but tells me he has now stopped using it.

“The birth of his son has had a sobering effect on him.”

Judge Moreland sentenced Debbage to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.

The judge said: “I have expressed my scepticism at how you came by these drugs and how you have managed to afford a cocaine habit while unemployed.”

Debbage was ordered to pay £340 prosecution costs.

Judge Moreland ordered the £240 cash found on him to be put towards the costs order.

The 105g of coacaine will be confiscated and destroyed.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho