A TEENAGER involved in heroin dealing has kept his freedom, but could have faced three years behind bars if he had been older.

Burnley Crown Court heard how the 17-year-old was caught in an undercover police operation in Accrington town centre. He had handed over the drugs, which on the third occasion were “very good drugs” of “exceptionally high” 57 per cent purity.

The defendant, of Accrington, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted three supply-related charges. The youth, who was 16 at the time, was given a two-year youth rehabilitation order and must do 100 hours unpaid work. He had no previous convictions.

Stephen Parker, prosecuting, said last April an undercover officer was working as a buyer. On May 21, he bought drugs off a man. He made several purchases off him until May 29, when the defendant handed over the drugs. On June 6, the teenager sold the officer heroin.

On the last occasion, on June 21, the defendant knew a little bit more than just handing over the heroin and knew how good it was. He was arrested and interviewed last October.

Judge Beverley Lunt told the defendant: “You were 16 and you decided to commit three crimes pretty much at the top of the criminal spectre. No starting off small for you. You got knowingly involved in dealing Class A drugs. You knew it was wrong.”