A DRUG dealer who was caught selling heroin and crack cocaine in woodland in Runcorn has been jailed.

Peter Wharton was handed four years behind bars at Chester Crown Court last Wednesday, January 6, after admitting possession of heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply.

The court heard that police performed a stop and search on the 42-year-old on a Tuesday morning in July last year after a member of the public reported suspected drug dealing in woods near to Humphreys Close in Murdishaw.

Wharton, who matched a description provided by the informant, was seen talking to another man in this area but the pair walked to a car and got inside as an officer approached them.

This vehicle began to move away, but stopped after being instructed to do so by attending police.

The defendant was seen attempting to tuck a plastic package down his sleeve, a parcel that was later found to contained 25 wraps of heroin and 18 of crack cocaine worth an estimated street value of £430.

A total of £850 in cash and two mobile phones were also discovered during a search.

Wharton initially claimed that the class A drugs were for personal use and that his girlfriend had given him the money in order to buy items for their home, but later pleaded guilty to the charges he faced.

Police constable Simon Gibson, who led the investigation, said: “This case is a great example of how information from members of the public can lead to offenders being brought to justice to the benefit of local communities.

“It also emphasises the importance of the police’s power to stop and search people they suspect to be responsible for crime.

“As a result of our ability to stop the car that Peter Wharton was in and then search him, a class A drug dealer and 43 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine have been removed from our streets.

“I am pleased that he is now behind bars facing the consequences of his actions, and I hope that this case deters others from dealing drugs.”

Wharton was also ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge.

Chief inspector Sarah Heath said: “Class A drugs cause untold damage to the lives of both those who use the drugs and become dependent on them, and the wider community who suffer from the resulting crime.

“Drug dealing in Runcorn or elsewhere in Cheshire will not be tolerated.

“While this investigation has now concluded, our fight against illegal drugs and those who supply them continues.

“Intelligence supplied by members of the public is crucial to this fight, and I urge anyone with any information about suspected drug related activity in their community to get in touch.

“As this case shows, you will be listened to and we will investigate the matter.”

Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane added: “Stop and search powers are vital to the crucial role that frontline officers play in the detection and prevention of serious and organised crime.

“Officers work tirelessly in their fight against drug dealers who blight communities in Cheshire with their illegal drugs, and I am really pleased to hear that they have secured another good result in this regard.

“I would like to thank the officers involved in this case for the work they have done to secure this conviction, and I would also like to thank the member of the public who played the key role of reported their drug dealing suspicions to the police.”