Unemployed Sunderland dad turned drug dealer when his benefits were stopped

A man who turned drug dealer when the family’s benefits were stopped has been spared jail.

Anthony Howe was caught red handed when undercover officers spotted him selling cannabis to a customer on the street in Plains Farm, Sunderland, last June.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 39-year-old had been selling £10 deals, and still had 10 wraps in a bag he was carrying, along with £90 in cash.

Howe, of Besford Grove, Hendon, Sunderland, admitted possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply.

He has two previous convictions for drug dealing, the last one being in 2010.

Prosecutor Jessica Slaughter told the court two plain clothes detectives had noticed Howe approaching a man who had been acting suspiciously in Borough Road.

Miss Slaughter said: “The defendant approached this male and they effectively observed a drug deal.

“Ten pounds was passed over and the defendant took a small bag out of a larger bag from his left pocket.”

The court heard when Howe’s phone was seized it contained messages which linked him to dealing.

Vic Laffey, defending, said:

“He lives with his partner and they have a number of children.

“What instigated the offence was she was investigated, and is still in the process of being investigated, for benefit fraud. As a result the benefits were stopped. They had no income at all.

“That is what led to him taking the step of reverting to something he has been involved in in the past.

“It was a financial decision because of lack of money and the fact the benefits had been stopped altogether.”

Mr Recorder Andrew Baker, QC, sentenced Howe to 15 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision.

The judge told him: “You were, in effect, caught red handed dealing in the street, small wraps of cannabis for £10.

“If your issues are not addressed, I am satisfied you will offend again.

“With your record, this really is your last chance to keep yourself out of custody.”

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