A FATHER whose sons dealt cannabis from his Accrington home to friends and acquaintances has been blasted by a crown court judge.

William Sledden was told at Burnley Crown Court that he should have stood up to his sons Daniel and Samuel, who each had previous convictions related to the drugs trade.

But because police and the Crown Prosecution Service had taken more than a year to bring the Sleddens to court, the trio walked free from the dock.

The Sledden brothers had even been seen speeding around the streets of their estate in a gold Land Rover Discovery, the court was told.

Police had repeatedly raided both 70 and 32 Hopwood Street between May and September 2014, said prosecutor David Farley.

Each time the officers found small amounts of cannabis, either belonging to one of the Sleddens', or in the pocket of associates who had been at the Hopwood Street addresses.

Mr Farley said the real evidence in the case came from mobile phone text messages, on phone attributed to the defendants, where customers would ask for either quarter or half-ounce deals.

But giving all three suspended prison sentences, Judge Beverley Lunt said the father and two sons had managed to stay out of trouble since the end of 2014 and questioned the wait in bringing the case to court.

Judge Lunt said: "The police must have been watching you for 14 or 15 months and you have plainly not been dealing."

All three admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis and William Sledden, 45, was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Both Daniel, 27, and Samuel Sledden, 22, were given two year terms, also suspended for two years.

Passing sentence on the father, Judge Lunt said: "You let this go on in your own house. You should have thrown them out. You shouldn't have allowed drug dealing in your own home. You should have stood up to them."

Anthony Parkinson, for William Sledden, said the father had only one drugs possession conviction dating back to 1996.

And for Daniel Sledden, Mr Parkinson said his client, who still admitted he had a cannabis problem, was now a maintenance worker on local industrial estates.

Daniel Prowse, for Samuel Sledden, said the youngest defendant had not been set a good example by his family but had secured work as a plasterer and was undertaking a number of qualifications.