Man caught with thousands of pounds worth of cannabis said it was for his own use and he bought in bulk 'due to the pandemic'

Man caught with thousands of pounds worth of cannabis said it was for his own use and he bought in bulk 'due to the pandemic'

A MAN with an Ahoghill address caught with cannabis, which a court heard was valued at '£3,000,' claimed it was for his his own personal use and he had bought in bulk "due to the pandemic".

Jason Coulter (47), of Quarry Hill, admitted a charge of possessing cannabis in relation to September 8, 2020.

A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates' Court (main picture) police noticed a car in front increased its speed and when they stopped the vehicle 100 grammes of cannabis was found.

Further cannabis was found in his address.

A phone was also seized and it was established the defendant had made a fraudulent claim to Carphone Warehouse that the device had been "lost or stolen".

He was also charged in relation to that.

The prosecutor said the defendant said to police the drugs were for "personal use" and he was "buying in bulk due to the pandemic"

The prosecutor said in total 159 grammes of cannabis were found with an estimated value of '£3,000' and there was no evidence of drugs supply which was why a possession charge had been directed.

A defence barrister said '£3,000' was "quite a high valuation".

He said the defendant was due to take up a "labouring" job in Europe.

He added: "He wants to remove himself from the Ballymena area and those who have got him into trouble".

The lawyer said Coulter had been off drugs since early 2021 and "wants to make a clean break".

District Judge Nigel Broderick said were it not for the fact that the defendant was going to leave the jurisdiction he could well have been facing a custodial sentence.

A sentence of five months in prison, suspended for three years, was handed down.