A “PROFESSIONAL drug dealer”, who was caught with drugs paraphernalia at his Basingstoke home during a police raid, has been jailed for 20 months.

Peter Clarke was caught red-handed when the police executed a search warrant on his home in Kings Road, South Ham, on the evening of March 7.

Prosecuting, Mr Russell Pyne said: “When the police entered the property, the defendant was inside the toilet, and the police heard the sound of the toilet flushing. We say this was not a coincidence.”

In the house, police found a mobile phone, which was ringing constantly, several sealable plastic bags, scales, cannabis grinders and a list in a cookbook, which police believe detailed deals and debts. There was also £500 in cash in a safe and a number of other mobiles.

Mr Pyne said: “In interview, the defendant said he was a former cannabis user, and denied being involved in drugs supply.”

He described Clarke, 30, as a “professional drug dealer” who has five previous convictions for drug dealing offences and many more for possession.

Defending Clarke, Robert Bolton asked Judge James Watson not to impose an immediate custodial sentence.

He said: “My client is addicted to the drug (cannabis) and has been for years. A bad road traffic accident in 2003 left him with cognitive difficulties and cannabis helps him get through the days. It relaxes him and gives him pain relief.”

He added that Clarke – who pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis – will soon become a father for the first time, which “seems to be a focus for him”. He said that Clarke, who is unemployed, could not help with the child if he was in prison.

Passing sentence, Judge Watson said: “You are 30-years-old and have a previous record which demonstrates repeated offences of this nature.

“I have listened to your mitigation and heard what has been said about the child. In my judgement, this should not dissuade me from passing what I consider to be the right sentence.”

He sentenced Clarke to 20 months in prison and told him that he will serve half of that sentence before being released on parole. A proceeds of crime application in relation to the case will be heard in September.