A drug dealer who had arrived in Chester with thousands of pounds worth of cocaine was caught out by a police sniffer dog.

Antonio Canovi, 23, was at Chester Railway Station on March 8, 2023 when officers stopped him.

He was found to have a bag with 62.7g of 80 per cent purity cocaine, while text messages on his phone showed he had also been involved in dealing cannabis.

At Chester Crown Court (sitting at Chester Magistrates Court) on Friday, March 15, Canovi – of St Johns Court, Radcliffe, Greater Manchester – was jailed for three years after previously pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply a class A drug, and being concerned in the supply of a class B drug.

Prosecuting, Peter Hussey said police were present at the station as part of Operation Crossbow, a cross-border operation involving multiple police forces, targeting criminals on the rail network.

Once a police dog had identified Canovi, the defendant volunteered to police that he had drugs on him, and the white bag was found down the front of his trousers.

Two iPhones and £123 in cash were also seized, with the phones containing flare messages promoting drugs for sale.

An analysis of the messages suggested the cocaine would have sold for a collective total of £6,250 in street deals.

Canovi had one previous conviction from six years ago, when he was handed a 32-month sentence for wounding with intent and possession of a weapon.

Defending, Simon Killeen said a number of documents had been submitted, including a letter from the defendant's mother and a reference from work.

The court heard Canovi had found work as a contractor during his time in custody through an employer, and had continued that work for three years, until that employment could not continue.

The job loss was "disastrous" for Canovi, the court heard, as it led to his drug use and he saw selling drugs as a way to make money.

Since the offence, Canovi had "rid himself of drugs", had a stable home and relationship, and had work available for him with a "brighter future" in prospect, Mr Killeen said, asking the judge to step back from immediate custody.

But judge Patrick Thompson said Canovi had been caught bringing a "significant amount of drugs" into Cheshire.

He added that, while his previous post-sentence supervision had been described as "excellent", the idea of that was for him not to commit any more crimes, adding that drugs lead to "virtually all criminality in this country" and it was clear Canovi stood to get "significant financial gain" from the drug dealing.

As well as the three-year sentence, Canovi was to be deprived of the cocaine seized, as well as the two phones and £123 cash.