A STRUGGLING businessman who turned to drug dealing to help him pay his mounting debts was spared an immediate prison sentence by a judge.

Harri Groves, 24, from Pontypool, started trafficking cocaine when he hit financial difficulties, Newport Crown Court was told.

A judge said she could suspend his jail term when she heard he was the primary carer for his widowed mother who has a life-threatening condition.


She also said there was a realistic chance of rehabilitating the defendant who admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply and possessing ecstasy.

Prosecutor Lisa McCormick said police stopped Groves when he was driving a Citroen Xsara in Abersychan on December 21 last year.

After a search of the car, officers found 4.6 grammes of cocaine with a 40% purity and a street value of £480.

When police later combed his home, they found a further 1.99 grammes of the class A drug of a 44% purity worth £140, white powder on a silver spoon, a small amount of ecstasy and an “uncounted” amount of cash.

Miss McCormick said: “Police examined his mobile phone and there were two messages advertising the sale of drugs and offering drop offs.

“There were 24 contacts via WhatsApp. He was running a mini drug dealing business.”

Darren Bishop, mitigating, said Groves, of Park Terrace, Pontnewynydd, was a man of previous good character with no convictions recorded against him.

His barrister said his client turned to crime after a debt recovery order was made against him after his business failed and he took out a car loan.

Mr Bishop said the defendant was the primary carer for his mother who suffers from a life-threatening condition.

The court heard that Groves now works in the construction industry.

Judge Nicola Jones told him he had been addicted to cocaine.

She added: “You assisted the police with their investigation. You were dealing with grief after the death of your father and you have shown genuine remorse.

“You need to be rehabilitated and you have a supportive family.”

The judge said because of his “exceptional mitigation” she could hold back from imposing an immediate custodial term.

She jailed Groves for two years, suspended for two years, and ordered him to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work in the community.

The defendant must also pay costs of £340 and a £140 victim surcharge.

She also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and confiscation of the cash.