A convicted robber has been given another year behind bars – after he was caught dealing cannabis while awaiting sentence for the theft spree.

But Judge Jason Taylor QC ruled that Joshua Orchard’s 12 month sentence should run alongside the four years he received for robbery and attempted robbery in February, after hearing that the 21-year-old had served almost all his jail sentence under highly restrictive pandemic conditions.

Prosecutor Nicholas Lee told Swindon Crown Court two police officers had spotted Orchard on the back of a moped while they were out patrolling in an unmarked car in Swindon on November 6 last year.

He was acting suspiciously. The officers suspected he had recognised the unmarked car as a police vehicle.

The constables later spotted Orchard and another hanging around outside a house in Ballyack Close, Badbury Park. They appeared to be trying to get into the house before the police officers reached them.

The youngster was detained and searched. Inside his rucksack were 12 bags of cannabis valued at around £120 and three smaller bags of cocaine. He had £30 in cash and a telephone that, when later analysed by drugs officers, pointed to him selling the class B drug.

Defending, Rob Ross said his client had admitted the drug dealing when he was being interviewed by the probation service for his pre-sentence report at the start of the year. The lawyer said his client’s admissions were “surprising, but do him credit”.

While serving in Bullingdon he had had a prison job. Since being moved to HMP Featherstone, near Wolverhampton, he had been on a stricter lockdown – part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus – but had hopes of using his time inside to gain qualifications and experience so he could work as a bricklayer upon his release.

The court heard he had been jailed for four years in February. He was part of a group of four that had binged on drink and drugs before targeting people walking home in the early hours of June 3, 2018 or heading to work. They had used a home-made cosh on two victims and threatened to stab another.

Orchard, formerly of Hillingdon Road, Park South, admitted possession with intent to supply cannabis and possession of cocaine.

Judge Taylor sentenced Orchard to 12 months imprisonment, but made the sentence concurrent to the four years he was currently serving for robbery – meaning his release date will remain the same.

Explaining his reasoning, the judge said: “You have been serving your sentence, which is a long one for somebody of your age and also for a first conviction, during the pandemic, which makes a custodial sentence far more onerous.”

He added that he would have had to reflect totality had the cannabis dealing charge been sentenced at the same time as the robbery.

The drugs, cash and rucksack were forfeit.