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A cannabis dealer was caught with more than half a kilo of the drug worth almost £6,000 and texts on phone saying: “I want a bag.”

Swar Mohammed, 28, initially claimed almost £6,000 worth of cannabis was for his own use.

He was spotted leaving a property on Bowesfield Lane, Stockton after a suspected drugs exchange.

He and the other person walked off in separate directions and they were both chased by police officers.

Mohammed was soon stopped with cash, a bag of cannabis bush and a phone on him.

Police also seized two keys connected to the inside of his trouser pocket, Teesside Crown Court heard on Friday.

This led officers to his home where they found cash in the living room and “what appeared to be gloves used to bag money”.

Prosecutor Rachel Masters said: “Throughout the inside of the address were items associated with cannabis dealing.

“In the main, grip seal bags, a wrap containing green matter later identified as cannabis.

“And, as a result of the strong smell of cannabis felt in the kitchen, the police officers searched the roof of the property.

“A significant amount of cannabis was recovered from the roof as well as some scales and a friction lock baton.”

The cannabis had a total street value of £5,960, and some £600 cash was seized on the afternoon of November 15, 2018.

Texts on Mohammed’s phone read “can you do me tick until tomorrow?” and “I want a bag”.

He denied guilt in police interview, saying the drugs were for his own use and he ran from police because they were not in uniform.

Mohammed, of Bowesfield Lane, later admitted possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply and possessing criminal property.

‘He failed to appreciate the gravity of his actions’

With no relevant previous convictions, he faced a potential prison sentence of up to three years.

John Nixon, defending, said the Iraqi man came to the UK five years ago and refugee status.

He said: “He had a difficult time back home, leaving behind his family. He has obtained a home in Stockton and been living independently.”

Mr Nixon added: “A man who cannot read and he cannot write, and he has struggled due to that and has been somewhat disadvantaged.

“He has obtained work where possible and has done his best to support himself.

“He quite obviously failed to appreciate the gravity of his actions.

Dealer shocked to learn he could be imprisoned

“He was plainly shocked to learn that he faced an immediate custodial sentence and was desperate for me to persuade the court not to put him behind bars.

“His concern is that he faces the loss of his accommodation by virtue of custody.”

Judge Stephen Ashurst told Mohammed: “You were out on the streets of Stockton dealing cannabis.

“In total you’ve admitted possessing over half a kilo of cannabis, 600-odd grammes.

“And it’s quite clear from just a couple of messages recovered from your mobile phone that you were offering street deals of cannabis in this part of Stockton.

“I accept what Mr Nixon says that there are difficulties in terms of obtaining employment.

“However you’ve made the decision as an adult man, aware that drug dealing is illegal in this country, to set yourself up as a dealer.

“Mr Nixon is right that losing your home will be a punishment to you if you go to custody.

“But on the other side of the coin, you have to realise that that house, your home, was being used as a base for drug dealing.

“I’m afraid in these circumstances you must take the consequences.

“I’m afraid the message has to go out that whatever your background, street dealing in this area results in custody.”

Mohammed was jailed for nine months.

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