A HEROIN and crack cocaine dealer who was caught peddling drugs in a seaside town following an extensive police investigation has escaped prison time.

Barry White, 41, of no fixed address, was arrested on May 15, as part of Essex Police’s Operation Spectre, which was launched in a bid to stamp out drugs and knife crime in the county.

The catch came after months of investigative work by officers into two county lines, which subsequently resulted in a series of dawn raids in Clacton, Colchester, Braintree, and London earlier this year.

After being arrested, White, who would also go by the name Barry Hales, confessed to supplying drugs to users in Clacton, on four occasions between October and November last year.

He was working on behalf of a county lines drug gang, known as T Line, which was eventually eradicated by the force’s operation.

According to White, he dealt drugs in order to fund his own drug addiction, on which he we would spend as much as £50 a day.

Following a hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on the day after his arrest, White was charged with four counts of supplying diamorphine and three counts of supplying crack cocaine.

He was sentenced on Monday at Chelmsford Crown Court to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

He has also been placed on a rehabilitation programme and ordered to pay a £149 victim surcharge.

Detective sergeant, Phil Terry, said: “The court spared White an immediate jail term in order to give him a chance to rehabilitate and consider if this criminal lifestyle is really worth it.

“I hope he takes the opportunity to do so.

“Drugs gangs exploit vulnerable people, including those with addictions.

“They use them to sell and store drugs, which keeps them under the gangs’ control and traps these individuals in a vicious circle of crime and addiction.

“There is no long term future to be had in dealing drugs, and those involved will only ever be looking over their shoulder, because not only will the police be watching them, but so will rival criminals."