Dealer sold drugs to undercover police officer after South Shields Indian restaurant manager acted as middle-man
Naim Rahman, 32, who was manager at the Indian Brasserie on Ocean Road, and Shahin Choudhury, 30, were caught as part of an undercover police operation.
Choudhury supplied an officer with cannabis on ten separate occasions, after Rahman acted as the middle man passing on his friend's contact.
Last year the Indian restaurant where Rahman worked was named the best in South Tyneside in the Curry Life Awards.
Glenn Gartland, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court that the operation lasted between November 2017 and February 2018.
"These two defendants were involved in the operation and I understand other people have been dealt with separately," he said.
"Mr Rahman provided an undercover officer with a contact and she was then supplied with cannabis on ten occasions by Mr Choudhury.
"Mr Rahman was manager of the Indian Brasserie restaurant, giving Choudhury's name to officer 'Tracy', and he was present on two occasions where the drugs were handed over.
"The officer went to the restaurant to speak to Mr Rahman and asked about the drugs and she was told Choudhury wouldn't sell to those he didn't know, but would sell the lot the next time she visited."
The first deal took place on December 5, 2017, where she was sold 1.67 grams of cannabis to the value of £20.
The meetings continued until January 25, 2018, where a total of £240 for 21.83 grams were exchanged between the two parties.
Rahman, of Osborne Avenue, South Shields, admitted one count of being concerned with the supply of a class B drug while his counterpart Choudhury, of Baring Street in the town admitted supplying a class B drug.
Mr Gartland added: "Mr Rahman was interviewed and denied he was involved with supplying any drugs.
"He said he didn't sell it but he could get hold of cannabis for her, and admitted he could see how he played a role in providing the officer with the drugs."
Defending Mr Choudhury, Tony Cornberg told the court that his client has turned his life around completely almost three years later.
He said: "Effectively three years ago when comparing who he was then to who he is now a lot has changed. He was a single man thinking about his own needs – friends and image was important then.
"Now he has two jobs and all he does is work."
The court heard that he now has employment in consultancy for Santander, where he has recently been promoted as well as working for the family business and carried out volunteering roles during lockdown.
Mr Cornberg added: "The officer also asked him about class A drugs to test the water to see what's available, but he said he's not into that.
"He has finally grown up - whether or not he was late in doing so the point is he has."
Mitigating for Rahman, Steven Reed said: "It has been set out already, but he played a lesser role.
"Since the incident he has married, has a one-year-old daughter and his father has become ill and is fitted with a device that monitors his heart beat.
"He has taken responsibility for the problem.
"Since the birth of his daughter he no longer takes cannabis at all and is responsible for not only his father but also his sisters to make sure everyone is taken care of.
"He is ashamed of what happened."
Mr Recorder Kealey handed Choudhury eight months imprisonment suspended for 12 months with 200 hours of unpaid work, whilst Rahman was given a 12 month community order with 150 hours.