Hartlepool man caught with £400 of heroin avoids prison

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A MAN caught by police carrying more than £400 of heroin has avoided an instant jail spell.

Mark Etchell, 47, was arrested near Eton Street, Hartlepool, when he had 7.5 grams of the Class A drug on him.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said the drugs had a street value of £430.

Etchell admitted to possessing heroin with intent to supply on September 7 last year.

He pleaded guilty on a basis that he was holding them for his landlord who they belonged to and was due to give them back a short time later.

The court heard his landlord believed his house was about to be searched by police.

Jim Withyman, mitigating, said Etchell, an unemployed roofer of Carlton Street, Hartlepool, was not a drug user and had no drugs offences on his record.

Recorder Toby Hedworth sentenced him to 16 months prison suspended for two years.

Recorder Hedworth said his actions were “extremely stupid”.

But he added: “I take the view given your history there is little likelihood of you committing offences of this sort or similar in the future.”