A young man who says he was dealing drugs to pay off debts has been sentenced to 21 months in prison. 

Justin Earp appeared at Bristol Crown Court live via video link from prison to learn his fate after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of several drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, diamorphine and cannabis. 

The 21-year-old, formerly of Diamond Crescent, Blunsdon St Andrew, had previously been sentenced for three counts of carrying a knife following two separate incidents in April and May. 

And the counts of drug dealing he faced on Thursday related to the earlier April incident. 

Police officers saw a known drug user approaching a car parked in the town centre at around 1.45 pm on April 27, and as one of the officers approached the car, Earp exited the vehicle and ran away.

After a short chase where he had discarded phones along the way, Earp was caught in Commercial Road and found with a lock knife, £325 in cash, and a large quantity of Class A and Class B drugs believed to be valued at between £2400 and £3010. 

Justin Earp has been convicted of drug dealing and for carrying knivesJustin Earp has been convicted of drug dealing and for carrying knives (Image: Facebook) The drug charges took so long to appear before the court because Earp initially gave a no-comment interview when interviewed by police.

The prosecution explained that police investigated a total of three phones that were retrieved from the scene and were finally able to interrogate one, which made it clear that Earp "was running his own drug line and was a dealer of all four drugs subject to indictment."

Earp's defence representative explained that he had found himself in debt, and was put under pressure to repay that debt, which is what led to his drug dealing. 

His Honour Judge James Townsend said: "I have to sentence you for drug dealing,

"Full credit must be given to pleading guilty at the first possible opportunity and it is unfortunate these matters weren’t dealt with at the same time you were sentenced last time, although that is partly your fault because of the no-comment interview,

"I also have to bear in mind you’re still relatively young."

He opted to sentence Earp, who was already in custody, to 21 months in prison starting effectively from June 27.

The forfeiture of the drugs, phones and cash was also ordered. 

Earp was previously convicted in July 2022, for the lock knife found during this incident, and a machete and Rambo knife he was found with at the later May 28 incident, which also saw Earp running from a car as officers approached. 

Wiltshire Police released bodycam footage of this incident, which saw officers need to raise tasers to bring Earp to a stop. 

He pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of a bladed article in a public place and managed to avoid jail as he was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.

At the time Judge Joanna Dickens had a stark warning for the then-18-year-old.

“It’s people of your age who are dying because of knives," she said.

“They are dying because people carry knives and make instant, crazy decisions and people get killed.”

She said the “really serious part” is that being charged for the first offence “should have been a wake-up call”, but he went on to be in possession of “two terrifying knives” a month later.

Reacting to his sentence then, PC Ben Agate said: “We are committed to targeting those who insist on carrying knives on our streets. I hope this case acts as reassurance to the local community that we are robustly dealing with knife crime, and will do all in our power to target those carrying weapons.”