A former civil servant was forced into drug dealing after he lost his job and could not pay his cannabis bill.
Karl Hunter, who had never been in trouble before, owed a “few hundred” pounds to his dealer and was pressured into working it off by selling to other users.
Newcastle Crown Court heard, even after the amount he owed was paid, the 27-year-old, who had an “impeccable” work record, felt afraid to tell the dealer he wanted to stop supplying.
The former inland revenue worker was caught when his home was raided in June and police found 12 wraps of cannabis.
Hunter, of Thornton Court, Washington, pleaded guilty possession and supply of cannabis.
Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court; “He was candid with the police, saying he had been put under pressure from someone else because of outstanding debt arising out of his personal use of cannabis.”
Hunter admitted his reward for selling the drug after his debt was paid was his own, free supply of cannabis.
He confessed he had been dealing for a year.
Mr Recorder Duncan Smith sentenced Hunter to six months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours unpaid work and £400 costs.
The judge told him; “It is one of the great sadnesses of the job I do to see a man of your age making his first appearance before the crown court on a serious offences.”
Jamie Adams, defending, said Hunter had to show the dealer a receipt to prove he had been arrested and that the cannabis he was supposed to be selling had been seized.
Mr Adams added: “The fact of losing his job got him into debt with the habit he had from really quite an early age.”
The court heard Hunter has now confessed to his family what he had been doing and is receiving help and counselling.