A HOMELESS man hired by the head of a County Line network to deal drugs in Swindon has avoided custody – for now.

Shaquille McAdam was sent from London to the Wiltshire town to peddle crack cocaine and heroin for the “Alex” County Line.

But Swindon Crown Court heard the 25-year-old managed to go little more than two weeks before he was arrested by police on March 28, 2017, after he was spotted dealing in Swindon.

He was found with two phones. One, the Alex deal phone, contained texts from kingpin Andre Hewitt telling McAdam to count out the takings.

Prosecuting, Susan Cavender said between March 10 and the day he was arrested McAdam received 1,300 calls or texts – with the majority from numbers linked to Hewitt. He went from receiving an average of four calls or texts a day to 74.

McAdam was videoed selling drugs in an alleyway near the Gorse Hill Lidl together with Swindon man David Watkins-Rudman.

Appearing before Swindon Crown Court, McAdam, of Dudley Road, Romford, and Watkins-Rudman, of Spindle Tree Court, Pinehurst, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

McAdam pleaded on a basis that he was acting under direction from Hewitt. He admitted going out on a few occasions to sell drugs. The deal phone found when he was arrested was not normally in his possession, McAdam said.

Watkins-Rudman admitted dealing drugs on a single day. He had done so on the promise of a discount on his own drugs.

James Martin, for McAdam, said his client had been homeless when he was put in touch with Hewitt in early 2017. He had been paid a small amount by the gang. Since then McAdam had turned his life around. He was working and lived with his partner and young child.

“A completely different person is in front of this court to be sentenced today,” he said.

Anthony Morris, for Watkins-Rudman, said his client was remorseful, had kicked his habit to class A drugs and burned his bridges with former associates. He acknowledged Watkins-Rudman had a poor record of compliance with court orders, but the man had turned a corner since his latest prison spell.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Peter Crabtree said: “Anyone who is involved in the supply of class A drugs is involved in criminality that ruins lives and undermines the fabric of society.”

McAdam was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work and up to 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Watkins-Rudman had his sentence deferred for three months. He must stay in employment, keep out of trouble, comply with instruction from the probation service and maintain contact with addiction and health services.