A YOUNG man from Ellesmere Port involved in the supply of crack cocaine has been jailed for two years and nine months.

Chester Crown Court heard on Thursday, February 7 that Riley Broster, 22, of Pembridge Gardens, had been "ensnared" in a Liverpool-based drug gang operation and, while lured by talk of financial gain, he had a drug debt and was "living in squalor".

Prosecuting, Derek Jones told the court it was just before noon on May 2, 2018 when Broster was spotted acting suspiciously by a police officer near Cheshire Oaks.

He was followed and stopped by the Coliseum Leisure Park, where a search found he had two mobile phones and £1,390.90 in cash.

He was arrested and his home was searched where a small amount of skunk cannabis was found.

Broster pleaded guilty at an earlier Chester Crown Court hearing to being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and possession of cannabis. The money had been forfeited.

In police interview, Broster said he had been given one of the mobile phones – a Nokia – by a mate, while the other phone – an iPhone – belonged to his girlfriend.

The Nokia was forensically analysed and it was found to be a 'graft' phone used to send text messages to potential purchasers of the class A drug crack cocaine.

The phone was activated on December 6, 2017 and was used several times over the five months before Broster was arrested.

Defending, Chris Hunt said: "This is sadly an all too common occurrence. The defendant is now 22, 21 at the time of the offending, and a probation report describes him as immature for that age.

"He has no previous convictions, one previous caution for possession of cannabis.

"He became addicted to cocaine and was tested positive when arrested."

Mr Hunt added there was an element of exploitation on Broster, that he had been failing to pay off a drug debt.

"He was young and naive and did not profit by it; he was just a cog in the machine...the latest in a long line," Mr Hunt said.

Police had gone to his address where they found him living in squalor and he had been relying on food banks.

Since the arrest, Broster had worked with friends and family to "rid himself of the tyranny of cocaine addiction," was at low risk of reoffending and was very sorry for what he had done.

Sentencing Broster, Judge Patrick Thompson said: "It's with a heavy heart I have to impose a custodial sentence. You got involved in the supply of class A drugs for at least five months.

"It may well be you did not realise the seriousness of what you were involved in, but you knew you were dealing with people addicted to a very dangerous drug.

"You were working effectively for other drug dealers and you accumulated a debt yourself.

"This type of offending, I am afraid, is custodial.

"The message has to go out to other young men who are ensnared in this type of operation by the lure of financial gain – when caught, you face a custodial sentence. Maybe one day people will listen to it."

Broster was sentenced to two years and nine months for being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. A one-month concurrent sentence was imposed for possession of cannabis.

The drugs and the Nokia phone were to be forfeited.