A “MIDDLEMAN” cocaine and cannabis dealer who boasted he employed runners and used Facebook to market his products has been jailed.

Former rugby player Lewis Sims, aged 23, of Balmond Terrace, Osborne Road, Pontypool, was caught after a partner in crime was arrested.

Laurence Jones, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court how when that man’s phone was analysed it revealed contact with the defendant.

When Sims then called the police on an unrelated matter, they were able to trace him by matching his mobile number.

A search of his house uncovered 55.8 grams of cannabis with a value of around £545, cash of £120 and several “dealer’s lists”.

Mr Jones said police also unearthed text messages Sims sent advertising his drugs as being “best bud about” and promising he had “whatever you need”.

He told the court Sims had also written, “If you want it, ring my runner.”

Police were also contacted by the manager of a local supported living charity which offers accommodation for young people aged between 16 and 24.

Sims had used Facebook to communicate with a resident who was one of his customers.

There were also messages linking the defendant with supplying cocaine.

One exchange between him and a dissatisfied client, Mr Jones said, went as follows, “It ain’t coke, it tastes weird.”

Sims said he replied to the customer, “I am going to go up to Blaenavon to smash his head in.”

He pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine, supplying cannabis and possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

In the police’s opinion, “his operation was small and localised, but still quite lucrative”.

The court was told Sims had five previous convictions for 12 offences and had served a custodial sentence at a young offender institution for a public order offence.

Jeffrey Jones, mitigating, said of his mechanics student client: “The defendant is still relatively young and he has no relevant previous convictions.”

His barrister put forward the claim that Sims did not have a runner and his talk of having one was merely “bravado”.

Mr Jones added the defendant had been a talented young player who had represented Talywain and Pontypool at rugby, had a “good work ethic” and an ambition to join the Merchant Navy.

He said: “He got lost and made a massive mistake because he owed a drug debt of £840.”

Judge Jeremy Jenkins told Sims: “You were the go-between between seller and purchaser.”

He jailed the defendant for two years and two months.