A DRUG dealer also involved in a cash-for-crash insurance scam gang has been jailed for supplying cocaine and cannabis.
Anthony Clark was stopped by police while driving a Citroën car in South Shields on March 28 last year, and the officer noticed a smell of cannabis.
A search of the vehicle revealed £1,120 worth of the drug and £520 worth of cocaine under its front passenger seat.
Clark, 26, of Inverness Road, Jarrow, was arrested and initially told police he had given a lift to another man and the drugs must have been his.
Paul Rowland, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: “His telephone was seized, and the messages revealed the defendant was involved in the supply of cannabis and also the supply of cocaine.
“He was re-interviewed regarding these messages found, but he declined to comment.”
The court heard that Clark had previously been part of a cash-for-crash gang which staged an accident in 2009 and he had dealt drugs around the time he was involved in that scam.
The scam involved intentionally damaging their minibus before driving it to the scene of a supposed accident, then claiming compensation for whiplash injuries.
Clark was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months for that offence, and he was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
This time round, he was back in court for sentencing after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine, a Class A drug, and cannabis, a Class B drug.
He was jailed for two years and three months and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120.
Thomas Laffey, defending, said: “The previous conviction for the cash-for-crash matter was ongoing at the time when these offences were committed.
“Until then, he hadn’t appeared before the court at all.
“It was because of the cash-for-crash that, he tells me, he began taking drugs.
“He began to get into trouble because of the drugs, and the amount of money he was making couldn’t support the amount of drugs he was taking himself.
“His life has taken a turn for the better. His employment has increased dramatically. He is still with the same company, and he is working all over the country.
“He is making a good wage compared to what he was when this all started.
Judge Simon Hickey told Clark: “Anyone who supplies drugs of Class A or B can expect a custodial sentence.
“You were clearly receiving payment for drugs. You were supplementing your own income by that.
“You may have turned your life around, and you do have some argument, but I can’t turn someone who supplies Class A drugs back on the street.”