A DOPEY drugs gang was caught with £7,500 worth of pills in the boot of their car – when police stopped them for speeding.

Driver Craig Wallace, 34, was branded an “idiot” by a judge for attracting attention to himself by doing 90mph on the A19.

He was stopped with pals Alan Foster, 43, and Mark Richardson, 28, in the Skoda Octavia on the outskirts of Hartlepool.

Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday that police found 1,500 diazepam tablets hidden in a bin liner stuffed in the boot.

The trio had been paid to travel to Manchester to pick up the delivery to pass on to a dealer in the North-East, the court heard.

The men, all from Hartlepool, admitted possessing Class C drugs with intent to supply, but were spared jail sentences.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said he was showing mercy because they had stayed out of trouble since their arrests a year ago.

“You have all got convictions but you are not hardened drug dealers.

“Hardened drug dealers would not behave the way you did.

“Only a complete idiot with a stash full of Class C in the boot goes up the A19 at 90mph, attracting the attention of the police.”

The three men were each given 10-month prison sentences which Judge Bourne-Arton suspended for the next two years.

Wallace, of Northgate, was put on drug rehabilitation for 12 months with supervision and told to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

Foster, of Allerton Close, was also given supervision and 100 hours of community work, as well as being put on a Thinking Skills course.

Richardson, of Durham Street, received an 18-week curfew from 9pm to 7am and a drug rehabilitation requirement.

His barrister, Ian Mullarkey, told the court that he has voluntarily sought counselling since his arrest in August last year.

Mr Mullarkey said: “He is frank enough to admit that he stood to derive some financial benefit from this.

“He accepts what he did was wrong and he should have found a more lawful way of providing for his young daughter.”

Paul Cleasby, for Wallace, said his partner has left him “until he sorts himself out and this matter is resolved”.

Jim Withyman, for Foster, said he has set up two businesses since his arrest, and has overcome his problems with drugs.