A doorman who helped double South Tyneside killer Martin Ruddy deal cocaine has walked free from court.
Liam Pattison conspired with then-pal Ruddy to supply the class A drug.
Ruddy, a fellow bouncer at the time, who murdered both of his parents at their home in Elswick, Newcastle, admitted during his trial he had been dealing cocaine.
Pattison, who was a witness in the murder trial, was arrested when police found incriminating texts on his phone.
Now the 28-year-old, who admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine, has been given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.
Prosecutor Neil Pallister said: “The defendant’s involvement only came to light as a result of the police investigation into Martin Ruddy, who murdered his parents.
“This defendant was a prosecution witness in the murder trial.
“During the trial Ruddy admitted he was involved in dealing drugs. He would not say who else was involved.
“An examination of Ruddy’s phone revealed texts to this defendant.
“The defendant was a doorman in Newcastle city centre, he was a close friend of Ruddy.
“Texts showed Pattison was aware Ruddy was involved in selling cocaine.
“This defendant was a go-between, making Ruddy aware of potential customers and obtaining samples to pass on to purchasers.
“In interview he accepted liaising between Ruddy and purchasers. He said he was a middle man and he knew someone who would buy it.”
The court heard Pattison had only supplied “testers” and his reward was free cocaine for himself.
He was not using his position as a doorman for the conspiracy and only supplied to two people he knew personally.
Pattison, of Sandringham Way, Newfield, Chester-le-Street, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine between October and December 2014.
The lifeguard and ice hockey player was given 21 months suspended for two years with a six month curfew, 250 hours unpaid work and £500 costs.
Recorder Mark McKone told him: “Cocaine is a class A drug which has been classified in the top category because of the harm it can cause to people.
“Effectively, you worked for Ruddy. You made him aware of potential customers and got samples from Ruddy to pass on to those potential customers.
“Importantly it doesn’t seem to be suggested you were helping to supply drugs to customers while you were working on the doors. That would be a very serious aggravating factor.”
The judge added: “There has been a delay of 18 months for perfectly understandable reasons, namely that the police had to concentrate on Ruddy, who is now serving a a sentence of life imprisonment for murder, unconnected to your offending.
“You have done everything right since 2014. You have stayed out of trouble and have stopped taking cocaine.
“I’ve read testimonials and you are spoken of highly as a ice hockey player, a lifeguard, a strong man and a good father to your three-year-old child.
“Your family depend on you and it’s hard to imagine what was going through your mind, helping someone trade in drugs when you had a baby at home.”
Brian Hegarty, defending, said: “His offending was unsophisticated and text messages make it clear what they were up to in a way any seasoned criminal would not.
“His occupation as a doorman was irrelevant to this offending, it was individuals he knew from his own personal life that he recommended to Ruddy and there were only two of them.
“The very limited involvement he had with drugs has ceased.”
Ruddy, 29, who was living in South Tyneside, was told last June that he must serve at least 35 years behind bars for brutally murdering his parents.
Debt-ridden Ruddy killed dad, Eric, 64, when he refused to yield to his demands for money then strangled his mum, Carol, 54, as she rang 999.
The calculating killer had drugged his parents with anti-depressants as part of his plan to extract cash from his dad’s savings.
Ruddy had claimed intruders attacked him and his parents in their home in Elswick but jurors rejected his account and found him guilty of two counts of murder.