A DRUG conspirator who sold drugs to undercover officers is behind bars- but the 'vulnerable' addict who also supplied was given a chance as he battles to turn his life around.

Akhmal Shabaan, 25, described as playing a 'managerial role', was jailed for two years and eight months at Worcester Crown Court on Monday after he admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

His co-defendant, Nicky Cranham, aged 42, of Barbourne Road, Worcester admitted supplying class A drugs (two wraps of crack cocaine) to undercover police officers he believed to be drug users after buying them from dealers.

Cranham appeared in court with his outreach worker from the city's Maggs Day Centre who has worked with him for the last two years.

Rupert Jones, prosecution, said the prosecutions arose from Operation Ballet, a police operation using undercover police officers to target County Lines supply into rural areas from urban centres.

He said criminal activity had peaked in Leominster in the summer of 2017 leading to a detrimental effect on the community, investigations focusing on the Etnam Street and Ridgemoor Road.

Shahbaan of Horatio Drive, Birmingham supplied two wraps of heroin and one wrap of crack cocaine to undercover officers on September 26, 2017.

Two further wraps of heroin and one of crack cocaine were supplied the following day. The defendant's phone was later found to contain more than 5,500 contacts. A search warrant at his address was conducted on November 27, 2018 and a phone and SIM cards were recovered as well as digital weighing scales and empty deal bags. He was involved in the Leominster conspiracy for around two months.

Mr Jones said Shahbaan had 'a very significant role' and was 'in effect in control of the Leominster end of the operation' and it was an aggravating feature that he had used a flat there for cuckooing.

Shahbaan answered 'no comment' to questions by police. Nicky Cranham met an undercover officer on October 12, 2017 where they talked about where he bought his drugs. On October 21, 2017 undercover officers met him again and told them if they went to an address in Etnam Street he could source them some drugs, selling them to officers. He gave a no comment interview to police.

John O'Higgins, for Shahbaan, said: "If he was a cuckoo he was not the only one."

He argued that putting his client at a managerial level was 'something of a stretch' and that he had also been homeless at the time he became involved.

Mr O'Higgins pointed out Shahbaan's 'limited' previous convictions including one for possession of cannabis, the 'unconscionable delay' in the case coming to court and personal mitigation, including the loss of his child who arrived stillborn.

"He's not been involved in any further offending whatsoever" said Mr O'Higgins.

Nicholas Berry, for Cranham, described his client as having a 'somewhat chaotic lifestyle' and as being 'highly vulnerable' with 'unenviable and unattractive' previous convictions.

However, he said Cranham, who had suffered a brain injury, had made significant progress over the last few months with the support of an outreach worker who had worked to get him accommodation. He was engaging with drug and alcohol support services and was scripted for methadone.

"To his credit he is trying" said Mr Berry.

Judge James Burbidge QC jailed Shahbaan, telling him: "You were quite central to this particular drug line, quite central to this cuckooing conspiracy."

The judge sentenced Cranham to an 18 month community order to include six months of alcohol treatment and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.