TWO Ellesmere Port men who admitted dealing cannabis have been spared immediate custody.

Spencer Edmond Ankrah, 55 – also known as Spencer Chandler – and Kieran Houghton, 37, both pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of the class B drug.

Chester Crown Court heard on Tuesday, November 10 the duo had originally been charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine, which they had denied, and the prosecution did not proceed with that due to lack of evidence, with a formal 'not guilty' verdict handed to both defendants.

Prosecuting, James Coutts told the court the offences happened back in March 2019.

Police were on patrol on March 16 at 4.45pm on Whitby Road when they saw Ankrah – of Whitby Road – and Houghton – of Winchester Avenue – in a car.

They pulled up the vehicle and Houghton began to walk away.

Police said he appeared "nervous and agitated" and had something in his left hand which he was trying to crush.

Houghton was handcuffed and inside his hand were two phone SIM cards.

The SIMs were analysed and messages in relation to drug dealing were found.

Ankrah was searched and had £138.95 on him, while a search of the car found a dealers list on A4 paper.

Three mobile phones were found in the car, with messages of drug activity, including a flare message sent out to 17 contacts on March 12.

Houghton had £180 in notes on him.

Police searched their homes and Ankrah's address had another dealers list on an ironing board.

Both defendants denied the allegations or made 'no comment' answers during their interviews with police.

Ankrah had eight previous convictions for 13 offences, including possession with intent to supply class A drugs in 2010, while Houghton had 13 previous convictions for 37 offences, including robbery in 2002.

Jane Greenhalgh, defending Houghton, said the offending happened over a two-week period in March 2019.

He had been trying to source cannabis oil for his ill father, to help him combat the pain.

Sadly, his father had since passed away, and Houghton was now caring for his mother.

He had suffered a life-changing car accident in 2015, which had changed him "personally and physically", and still had medical issues outstanding.

He was willing to work with probation.

Chris Hunt, defending Ankrah, said it was a small-scale supply and since the offending 20 months ago, Ankrah had paid off his cannabis debt and had stopped smoking cannabis, which he had been taking to deal with his other problems.

Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett said there was a wealth of medical evidence to suggest that cannabis causes heart problems, which would have meant it was a "double whammy" for Ankrah, who already had heart problems.

Mr Hunt added Ankrah had been living in "abject misery" in recent months.

He had been in the Army and had a clean record until he was 35, and had sadly lost two children.

The previous involvement in a drug gang "must have been minimal", Mr Hunt said, as Ankrah received a suspended sentence for it.

Judge Everett told the pair: "The facts are depressingly familiar. both are seen in a car, Ankrah believed to be the driver, it seemed you had both dealt drugs that day. both of you had phones, which you [Houghton] knew had evidence and you tried to get rid of the SIM cards.

"Cannabis is a dangerous drug. If you use it when you have a heart condition you are causing irreparable damage.

"With Houghton, I have every sympathy for the position you found yourself in, but I have no sympathy from the choice you made, by bypassing the medical assistance. You can't just break the law because it suits you."

Judge Everett added the offending happened some time ago, and it was 14 months before the pair were charged, and was prepared to accept they both showed genuine remorse.

Both were handed a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Houghton must complete 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement (RAR) and a thinking skills programme. Ankrah must complete 25 days RAR.

The £318.95 confiscated would go to help victims of crime, while the drug paraphernalia, including the mobile phones, was to be forfeited and destroyed.