A father-to-be who started dealing cocaine to pay off his drug debt said his arrest was “the best thing to happen to him”.

Jamie Taylor, 23, was in his teens when he tried cocaine for the first time, becoming addicted to the drug.

Burnley Crown Court was told that accruing and struggling to pay off drug debt, Taylor, of Straight Mile Court, Burnley, was recruited by his dealers to start selling the drug himself.

Despite there being no evidence, Taylor admitted to dealing for several months before police caught him on February 26, 2021, after pulling over his car just before 5pm in Padiham.

Prosecuting the case, Paul Cummings said officers saw cash in the car and searched a jacket where they found two wraps and one large bag of cocaine which he told police was for “personal use”.

They later searched his home, where he lived with his parents, and found three further wraps of cocaine.

In total, he was in possession of 52 grams of cocaine, amounting to more than £4,000 at street cost.

He was arrested and later charged by police with possession with intent to supply cocaine before admitting to his parents what he had been doing.

Mitigating, Mark Stuart, said Taylor had no previous convictions and was of "good character".

He said that after becoming addicted to cocaine and being unable to paid off a debt to dealers, Taylor was recruited and asked to sell drugs himself to help contribute towards the money owed.

He added Taylor showed a level of maturity in telling probation he had been offending for several months and that if he was to be jailed, he would be a "fish out of water".

Mr Stuart added Taylor had a caring family, with his parents having paid off his drug debt, as well as having a stable girlfriend who is eight months pregnant.

Mr Stuart said: “He has said his arrest was the best thing that ever happened to him.”

Sentencing Taylor, who was close to tears in the dock, Recorder Paul Hodgkinson said he was very lucky to not be going to prison.

He said: “You of all people should have known the damage selling such drugs causes - you tell us how you got into the predicament you did.

“Before I came into court, I was firmly of the view you were going to prison.

“Having heard what, I have from your barrister and the letter from your parents, you are not.

“You need to grow up, you have a baby on the way, you have a partner, you have a caring family.

“You have everything many who sit here do not.”

He was handed a sentence of two years, suspended for 18 months.

He has also been ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation and 180 hours of unpaid work.