AN ADDICT turned to dealing heroin and cocaine to help fund his £80-a-day crack habit, Swindon Crown Court heard.

Appearing before the court wearing a hooded top branded “Duffer”, Ras Nicholson was jailed for two years and seven months after he admitted six counts of supplying class A drugs to an undercover police officer last year.

Judge Paul Cook told the 34-year-old that even as a runner he had played his part in the “misery and destruction that dealing in class A drugs brings”.

Prosecutor Colin Meeke said Nicholson had been caught out in the major undercover police push – Op Jetway – that saw officers pose as addicts in order to build a picture of the gangs operating in the town.

One of the officers, known only as Steve, had been put in touch with a drugs line calling itself Sunny. On April 24, Nicholson delivered a wrap of crack cocaine and a wrap of heroin in exchange for £15. There were two more exchanges, including one on May 7 that saw the runner drop off the drugs to Steve’s van.

When he was later interviewed by detectives he denied being a drug dealer. In a basis of plea he said he was homeless and had been asked to act as a runner, delivering drugs and taking cash payments.

He had 17 offences on his record, including robbery, but had not been before the courts before for selling drugs.

Nicholson was on a suspended sentence when he dealt the class As. He had been convicted of possession of a knife, having been stopped by police on a bus near Swindon and found with a 70cm razor-sharp sword.

Nicholson, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to six counts of supplying heroin and crack cocaine.

David Maunder, defending, said: “At the time of this offending the defendant was effectively homeless. He was in receipt of universal credit albeit there was some form of sanction being applied to him which meant he wasn’t receiving the full amount. It had been more than halved, on my instructions.

“He was at that time a heroin and more particularly a crack user.

“In so far as the financial income he had simply couldn’t support the use of crack cocaine he was undertaking.”

Nicholson would smoke between £20 and £80 of the drug every day. “He would smoke what was available and spend what money he had to spend on drugs. One can see straightaway that’s an unsustainable model.”

Mr Maunder added: “He was given the opportunity - if that’s the right expression to use – by an associate who needed someone to do some running and the potential benefit of that was rather than having to pay for some drugs those would be given to him.”

His involvement in the drugs trade had been short lived. It was fortunate the police had intervened when they did, his barrister said. He had been attacked with what was described in court as a “kitchen implement” and warned against trying to quit his job for his dealer.

Nicholson was now free of drugs, had a partner and described himself as a rock within his family – which had suffered a number of recent deaths.

Jailing him for two years and seven months, Judge Paul Cook said: “You will know only too well the misery and destruction that dealing in class A drugs brings to the user and as a runner you were playing your part in that human misery.”