AN apprentice mechanic turned to dealing drugs ‘to better himself’ after racking up bills for his car that he could not pay.

Byron Thomas was caught after a resident spotted him smoking some of the cannabis with two pals behind some garages in Royal Wootton Bassett.

Although the three had nothing on them when they were searched, the police then searched the 22-year-old’s car.

In it they found almost £2,000 worth of the drug, some in wraps ready for sale, along with scales, a pipe and a cannabis grinder.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how Thomas was caught in the parking area behind Fairfield on Thursday, October 4.

He said a member of the public approached a police community support officer to say some lads were smoking drugs behind the garages.

After calling in a policeman to help him, they found nothing on the trio apart from £195 in Thomas’ pocket.

“This arose the police’s suspicion and they investigated further and Thomas indicated a car nearby was his,” Mr Meeke said.

In the vehicle they found the paraphernalia along with a tobacco tin containing three small bags of herbal matter along with a larger bag of drugs.

Mr Meeke said the small bags were in total worth about £70 and the larger amount, weighing 163 grams, had a street value of about £1,800.

When he was questioned he said he had been smoking drugs with his friends and acknowledged he had been selling for about five weeks.

“Asked in terms what he was going to do with the money, he said it was ‘either going to be saved or spent to better myself'’,” he said.

Thomas, of Tanners Close, Royal Wootton Bassett, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply and supply.

Rob Ross, defending, said his client was plainly not an experienced dealer but thought he would try and make some extra by selling to friends.

He said he had bought about six ounces of cannabis for £1,500 and, on the figures, looked likely to make about £150 from the enterprise.

“He is a young man of 22 years of age who has never been in trouble with the police before,” he said. “He’s two years into a three-year apprenticeship as a mechanic with a good company with prospects for the future.

“He had some bills to pay on his car, was strapped for cash, smoked a bit of dope himself and decided to use this money he had saved over a long period of time to buy some cannabis and sell it.

“Someone calls the police because three young men are smoking drugs... and he is utterly honest with them.”

Thomas was jailed for six months suspended for a year, told him to do 250 hours community work and forfeit the drugs, cash and paraphernalia.