A HOMELESS teenage drug dealer was twice released back onto the streets of Newport after he was caught selling heroin in the city.

William Inker had been destitute after both his parents were sent to prison, a court was told.

He was first caught peddling the class A drug by the police after he had turned 17, the second time a month before his 18th birthday.

Inker was bailed both times and it had taken the case nearly two years to come to sentence following his initial arrest.

A judge said that because of “very exceptional” circumstances she would not be sending the defendant, now aged 19, into custody.

Newport Crown Court heard the lengthy delay in the case meant Inker was not dealt with at the youth court where provisions for his welfare would have been made.

There would also have been different sentencing guidelines had the matter been dealt with promptly.

He is now drug-free and wished to pursue a career in the armed forces.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke demanded to be told in writing from Gwent Police and the Crown Prosecution Service why it took them so long to bring the case to court.

The teenager was found guilty after a trial of two counts of possessing a controlled drug of class A, heroin, with intent to supply.

The offences were committed in Newport on December 12 2017, and on June 13 2018.

Lisa McCormick, prosecuting, said Inker had no previous convictions for drugs offences but had a battery and criminal damage charge on his record.

Paul Hewitt, mitigating, said his client was “just a kid” when he had been arrested and now wanted to join the army.

Judge Lloyd-Clarke said Inker was first caught dealing drugs after police were alerted on Chepstow Road and he was arrested with 20 wraps of heroin following a chase.

He was bailed and six months later was spotted “under the influence of class A drugs” outside the Job Centre on Charles Street.

Inker again tried to escape the clutches of officers but was held and they found 10 wraps of heroin on him.

The combined value of the drugs in both cases was more than £400.

Judge Lloyd-Clarke said: “You have no relevant previous convictions and your vulnerability was exploited.

“Your drug problem started when you were living homeless. Both your parents were in prison and you were not sure where the rest of your family were.

“At 15, you left school. You effectively had nowhere to live and you started taking drugs.

“You were using heroin for two years and had little going for you.”

She sent him to a young offender institution for 18 months, suspended for 18 months.

Inker, now of Raglan Court, Newport, must complete 200 hours of unpaid work, attend a thinking skills programme and pay a victim surcharge.