A man caught with heroin became involved with the drug in order to settle his cannabis debts, a court heard.
Brody Ruddy, 29, was spared jail at Newcastle Crown Court after pleading guilty to possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply.
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The court heard that Ruddy, of General Havelock Road, Sunderland, had become involved with heroin to pay off debts from his cannabis use.
Police discovered he had 27.7 grams of the drug in a drawer in his bedroom, which he initially denied was his.
Michael Bunch, prosecuting, said: “This defendant was arrested and interviewed.
“During the course of the initial interview, the defendant said he had no knowledge of the item in question.”
However, Ruddy, whose fingerprint was found on the packaging of the drugs, later pleaded guilty to the offence.
Andrew Rutter, defending, said: “He has to improve his physical fitness and refrain from taking drugs and refrain from taking alcohol.
“The man stood before you today is very different.”
He added that Ruddy’s job of the past few months in a kitchen had been very beneficial.
Mr Recorder David Wilby QC sentenced him to 18 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
He said: “I take the view that you were holding the drugs essentially because you were owing money to your dealer for cannabis.”
“It’s not as though you were selling drugs on the street.”