A man found in possession of heroin claimed he started taking it to self-medicate a spinal injury.

Blackburn magistrates heard Rowan James had initially been prescribed morphine to help manage the pain.

James 49, of Lee Brook Close, Rawtenstall, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin.

He was given a conditional discharge for six months and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £22 victim surcharge.

Steven Botell, prosecuting, said James had gone to hospital on an unrelated matter and a doctor became concerned he had something concealed between his fingers.

Police attended and found the defendant was in possession of a quantity of heroin.

“The quantity of heroin eventually seized by the police was substantial and more than would normally be held for personal use,” said Mr Botell.

Ian Huggan, defending, said his client was of previous good character.

He said he had a number of problems relating to his spine following a road traffic accident.

“He was initially prescribed morphine for the pain relief,” said Mr Huggan.

He said James was diagnosed with Long Covid in 2021 and had then been gazumped in his efforts to buy a business.

“He was suffering from fatigue and was found collapsed by his parents on the day he was taken to hospital,” said Mr Huggan.

“The offence goes back nearly two years and for the last 12 months he has been working with Red Rose Recovery to combat his drug problems.”