AN ARMED county lines drug dealer who left people terrified after he brandished a machete in Basingstoke town centre has been spared jail.

Hezekiah Ondzie, 19, was seen by a member of the public “acting in a loud and aggressive way” and shouting at a person on July 31, 2019.

Winchester Crown Court heard that he pulled a 12-inch machete from his tracksuit bottoms and out of a black sheath.

Prosecuting, Andrew Houston said: “He continued to shout and continued to wield the machete for three or four minutes.”

Ondzie headed towards the car park in Church Street where he was seen to hide behind a vehicle.

Mr Houston said an eyewitness reported that “the defendant, he felt, looked scared when he left the car park, and the machete was not visible.”

Police had been called and the dealer was spotted in Glebe Gardens “skulking around the edge of the park”.

Officers told him to stop, but he ran and was tackled to the ground by a police officer, who found around seven wraps of crack cocaine in £10 deals.

“He didn’t have the machete, he managed to discard that in the chase. It was recovered in the bush near where the defendant was first told to stop,” Mr Houston said.

The court was told that Ondzie was caught with a drugs phone which had texts on it which showed he had an “operational function in the chain”.

In mitigation, Henry Dickson said that his client was “attracted, groomed into that criminal association”.

He continued: “The credit that is due to him for removing himself, it appears entirely, from these individuals, these influences.”

Mr Dickson said that Ondzie is “continuing to conquer” difficulties he has had and is progressing in his education and work, alongside helping his mother.

Ondzie, of Redbridge Gardens in Peckham, previously pleaded guilty to having a bladed article in a public place, possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and possession of criminal property - £677 in cash.

In sentencing, Mr Recorder Malcolm Gibney said: “You are now 19 years of age but when you were 17, at the height of summer on July 31st you were down in Basingstoke, seen by members of the public wielding a machete around – no doubt terrifying the local population.”

Ondize was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years, but he must complete 150 hours unpaid work and 30 rehabilitation days. He will also be subject to a curfew between 8pm and 7am for three months.