A young Sheffield dad-of-one forced to sell drugs after falling into debt was spared jailed after turning his life around.
Connor Birds, aged 20, of Colley Crescent, Parson Cross, was ordered to sell cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy by drug dealers who ‘owned him’.
To keep him in line, callous dealers had forced their way into his house and threatened him and his family with a shotgun.
Dealers put Birds’ drug debt up from £500 to £3,500.
Zaiban Alam, defending, told Sheffield Crown Court he ‘felt like he had no choice’ and the dealers ‘owned him’.
But Birds got a job at a call centre to pay off the drug debt, which was the cause of him becoming a drug dealer.
Birds, who appeared teary in the dock, pleaded guilty to offering to supply ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis after being caught in August 2015 with cannabis.
James Baird, prosecuting, said police had followed Birds’ car from his address on Parson Cross they suspected was involved in drug activity.
When officers stopped Birds, he told them: “I was only going to get fish and chips.”
An examination of his phone discovered evidence of other Class A drug-dealing activity. Officers also found a small amount of cannabis.
A further search of the property revealed Birds was keeping quantities of class A and class B drugs.
But Judge Mr Recorder Simon Batiste said he was taking the ‘extremely unusual’ step of suspending Birds’ prison sentence after hearing about his efforts to turn his life around.
Ms Alam said Birds had suffered from depression.
His grandmother and girlfriend both wrote letters of support to the court.
Mr Batiste said: “Both of these speak very highly of you and the way you have changed as a person. You obtained a job in a call centre that enabled you to pay back the debt to the drug dealer so you can move forward.
“In those circumstances, I’m prepared to take what is an extremely unusual course in your case and pass a suspended sentence.
“If you go back to offending in this way, I imagine the next time the sentence will be far longer.”
Birds was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for two years. He was ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work and given a three-month nighttime curfew.