An Exmouth dealer sold drugs from a squalid bedsit to customers who picked up heroin and crack while visiting a nearby chip shop.

William Stephenson was caught with class A drugs, hundreds of pounds in cash and incriminating messages on his phone when he was arrested in the Spring of 2021.

He is aged 66 and was spared a jail sentence after a Judge told him he had reached an age at which he should be tackling his own long-term drug addiction rather than getting involved in crime.

Stephenson, of Hartopp Road, Exmouth, admitted possession of class A drugs with intent to supply and was made subject of a three-year community order by Judge Stephen Climie at Exeter Crown Court.

He was ordered to attend a six-month drug rehabilitation programme with monthly reviews, take part in 40 days of rehabilitation activities, and do 200 hours unpaid community work.

The Judge told him he would go to jail for up to three years if he failed to comply with the conditions of the order: He said: “At your age, you really don’t want to coming back here.”

Miss Victoria Bastock, prosecuting, said Stephenson was found with drugs, wrappings and £863 cash when his home was raided in 2021. He had drug messages on his phone and told police he supplied drugs to known users who came to his address.

Miss Rachel Smith, defending, said the phone messages showed other people calling him and asking if he had drugs for sale rather than seeking out customers or advertising his wares.

She said he has a long standing drug problem and was addicted to crack cocaine and was known by other users as someone who sometimes bought more than he needed and sold drugs to pay for his own habit.

She said: “He was living in squalor next to a chip shop and people would knock on his door because he generally had drugs at his home. He was operating at a very low and unsophisticated level.

“He had mould on the walls and was not making very much out of it at all. He admitted everything and did not have a PIN code on his phone.”