Dealer stored drugs in garden rabbit hutch
A dealer who kept his drugs stashed in a rabbit hutch in his back yard has narrowly avoided going to jail.
Michael Kevin Ryan was told he is in "the last chance saloon" by a judge who said the only reason he escaped an immediate custodial sentence was because he was a full-time carer for his teenage daughter.
The 39-year-old appeared at Leeds Crown Court where he admitted a charge of possession of cocaine, and possession with an intent to supply cannabis.
Prosecutor, Felicity Hemlin, told the hearing that police used a warrant to gain access to Ryan's home on Princess Street in Outwood on August 30, 2019.
They found 1.85 grammes of cocaine, £491 in cash, a small cannabis plant and 94.4 grammes of cannabis. Under Ryan's bed they found dealer bags and counterfeit money.
They also found a further 27 grammes of cannabis stored in the rabbit hutch.
The cannabis, which totalled more than 123 grammes, had a street value of £1,220.
After being arrested, Ryan refused to provide the PIN code for his iPhone to check whether there was any evidence of drug dealing stored.
Ryan has 23 previous convictions for 50 offences, including possession of drugs and drug dealing.
The court was told that he had been battling drug addiction himself, but was seeking help from the Wakefield-based support group, Talking Point.
He was also the sole carer for his 13-year-old daughter.
Mitigating, Stephen Welford said: "He clearly has past issues that Turning Point is helping with, and he is engaging well.
"He needs to be punished, but needs assistance and there's real prospect for rehabilitation."
A stand-down report found that he was unfit for unpaid work because of his type-1 diabetes, but Judge Simon Batiste questioned this.
He asked the defendant directly who then changed his mind and admitted he was fit to work.
He was handed a 12-month jail term, suspended for 24 months, and given 160 hours of unpaid work.
But Judge Batiste warned him that he came very close to going directly to jail, and it was only his duty to his daughter that saved him.
He said: "Given your record you should be aware that it was my intention today to lock you up.
"You thoroughly deserve to be locked up, but I'm going to give you one last chance, and one chance only.
"Do not throw it back in my face. You are absolutely in the last chance saloon."
Judge Batiste said that should he fail to comply with the unpaid work requirement, he would be brought back before him and would go to prison.