A well-regarded BT worker was selling cocaine to fund his own use of the drug and to pay off gambling debts, a court has heard.

Gareth David Vaughan had spent some two years dealing the Class A drug before police knocked on his door with a search warrant.

Swansea Crown Court heard he told officers where they could find his stash then asked them: "Will I go to jail?"

Helen Randall, prosecuting, said on May 17 last year police executed a search warrant at Vaughan's house in Clydach. Present at the property were the defendant, his one-year-old daughter, and his partner.

The court heard he took officers to one side and confirmed he had been supplying cocaine, adding: "It's in the cupboard. Will I got to jail? I don't touch the stuff myself."

Police recovered a tub from a cupboard containing around £2,000 worth of low-purity cocaine. Officers also seized a mobile phone which contained messages relating to the supply of cocaine.

During his subsequent interview the 33-year-old said he had made around £10,000 from dealing over the previous two years.

Vaughan, of Oakwood Close, Clydach, admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He has no previous convictions.

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Andrew Evans, for Vaughan, asked the court to consider stepping outside the sentencing guidelines and imposing a suspended sentence given the circumstances of the case.

He said his client had been "wholly unaware of the seriousness of his action" when he had supplied cocaine to a circle of friends and fellow users and had become involved in a "culture where gambling and the misuse of cocaine was unfortunately commonplace".

The advocate said Vaughan worked for BT and had been nominated for a company award for his work during the coronavirus pandemic and he noted two of the defendant's managers had taken the unusual step of attending court for the hearing.

Mr Evans said the money his client had made from dealing had all been gambled away and that following his arrest he had voluntarily sought counselling for his gambling problem in an attempt to rehabilitate himself.

Judge Christopher Vosper QC said Vaughan had been involved in commercial dealing, buying cocaine from a contact and selling it on to people who were mainly but not exclusively his friends.

He said given the scale of his dealing a starting point for sentence of around four and a half years was appropriate and that with the one-third discount to which he was entitled to that would bring the sentence down to three years. The personal mitigation in the case including his lack of previous convictions, his remorse, the delay in the case coming to court, and his parental caring responsibilities would further allow him to reduce to the sentence to two years and four months but that was still in excess of the two-year threshold above which sentences cannot be suspended.

The judge said the choice for him, therefore, was whether for the sake of those four months – of which the defendant would actually serve two – he should send him to prison or whether he could impose a sentence outside the guidelines.

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Judge Vosper said having regard to all the facts, and the "disastrous consequences" for the defendant and his family if he were to be sent straight to custody, he was able to impose a sentence of two years in prison suspended for two years. He also ordered Vaughan to complete a drug rehabilitation course and 200 hours of unpaid work.

The judge said he had only once before not sent a Class A dealer to immediate custody, adding: "I'm probably imposing a sentence that is too low but nevertheless it seems to me it is a sentence that is appropriate for you. I hope I am not being too optimistic in offering you this opportunity."

Judge Vosper said there was no reason why the case could not have come before the courts last summer given the admissions the defendant had made to officers and he called the delay "not explainable to any satisfactory manner".