A HEROIN pusher who was spotted by police handing out street deals to addicts has been jailed.
Former soldier Mark Laking, 29, was spotted twice within minutes handing out deals to addicts on the streets of Hartlepool.
Prosecuting, Ian Mullarkey said officers from Cleveland Police’s Drugs Unit saw Laking walking in the Belle Vue area of the town at 6pm on July 21 last year.
Earlier they had noticed a young couple standing outside a medical centre who appeared agitated and were looking around for someone.
He said the couple spotted Laking approaching and the woman walked towards him, and after Laking looked over his shoulder, she handed him cash in exchange for heroin.
Laking was next spotted nearby apparently involved in another drugs deal with a man in car, added Mr Mullarkey.
When Laking was arrested he dumped three plastic bags which were found to contain 25 £10 deals of heroin.
He refused to answer questions for police and when he was searched at Hartlepool Police Station he also had £65 in cash and two mobile phones, one containing two text messages received immediately before the supply to the woman.
The court heard he has previous convictions back to 2002, including for possession of heroin.
Mr Mullarkey said: “The crown would submit that he had a significant role in the street distribution of drugs for profit.
“He has been stopped on a number of occasions since this date and found to be in possession of small amounts of cash which has also been seized.”
Katie Rafter, mitigating, said Laking had been a heroin user since he was medically discharged from the Army in 2004 after serving in Northern Ireland.
He began using it as self-medication and his last seven years had been dominated by the Class A drug.
Laking is receiving drug treatment and is on a methadone reduction programme.
He has kept in contact with his three children to a previous partner and his new partner is five weeks pregnant.
Miss Rafter added: “He knows that he faces an immediate custodial sentence and I would ask it to be taken into consideration that he is himself a heroin user.”
Laking, of Crimdon Dene Caravan Park, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, was jailed for three years after he pleaded guilty to two charges of supplying heroin and one of possession with intent to supply.
The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Peter Fox QC, said: “This is common street dealing.
“It should be known now that the going rate for that is four and half years starting point, less one-third for your plea of guilty. That’s three years.”
The judge also ordered the confiscation of £1,310 cash which will be used by the police in the fight against drugs.