A DRUG dealer took up the illegal enterprise after losing his job due to the coronavirus pandemic, a court has heard.

Father-of-two Oliver Bates was rumbled by police last summer after they executed a search warrant at his then home.

After discovering bags of cannabis destined for the streets, along with more than £500 in cash and drug paraphernalia, the 28-year-old made a ‘full and frank’ admission.

He was hauled before Liverpool Crown Court to learn his fate, but he was told that he would not be heading to prison on this occasion.

Prosecutor Alaric Walmsley explained to the court how Bates was present when police raided a property on Gorsey Lane in Padgate at 1.30pm on August 19.

Among the items seized were 33 snap-bags of cannabis estimated to be worth up to £1,170, a tick list and electric scales.

Cash to the amount of £290 was also recovered from the defendant’s jacket and £250 from a kitchen drawer.

Bates made a full and frank confession to police following his arrest and was charged with the supply of cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

During an interview, he explained that he has lost his job due to the coronavirus pandemic and was failing to ‘make ends meet’, which was why he turned to dealing.

A fellow occupant of the property, Nathan Taylor, was also charged with possession of cannabis and received a fine at Warrington Magistrates’ Court.

Bates was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

Bates was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

Mr Walmsley revealed to the court that Bates, now of Rolleston Street in Bewsey, had nine previous convictions for 12 offences between 2008 and 2015, but none for the supply of drugs.

In defence of her client, Jemma Gordon asked the court to ‘step back’ from immediate custody and consider suspending his sentence.

She said: “The defendant lost his job as a result of the pandemic and made the silly decision to sell cannabis.

“It is something he is ashamed of and regrets. This is the first time he is facing being sent to prison, which is very frightening for him and something he wishes to avoid.

“He pleaded guilty at first opportunity and made a full and frank admission, showing a sign of his remorse.”

Before sentencing, recorder Simon Parrington said: “While selling drugs may be straight forward, it is not the way forward.

“You will end up in prison for a long time if you continue to do such a thing.”

Bates was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to undertake a 12-month community order.

He must also complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days, 250 hours unpaid work and was fined £565.

Orders were made for the forfeiture of the cash and the destruction of the drugs and associated paraphernalia.