A BUSINESSMAN selling designer clothing turned to drug dealing when his high street shop started failing.

Ashley Forbes, 26, from Blackwood became an “upscale” supplier of cocaine after his legal enterprise in the town centre began to make a loss.

The defendant started taking the class A drug as well as cannabis because of the “anxiety” of the desperate financial situation he faced, his barrister said.

He was soon suppling sizeable amounts of cocaine to a dealer below him in the chain and it was this man’s arrest which led police to Forbes.

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Megan Jones, prosecuting, said the defendant had sold 56g of the drug with a potential street value of £4,300 to this customer.

South Wales Argus: Ashley Forbes

When Forbes was arrested he was found with cocaine and cannabis worth £1,100, Swansea Crown Court was told.

Police also seized a mobile phone which had a tick list showing the defendant was owed more than £8,000 in drug debts.

Forbes, of Cefn Fforest Avenue, Cefn Fforest pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and being concerned in the supply of cannabis.

He also admitted possession with intent to supply cocaine.

The offences took place between November 5 last year and January 27.

The defendant had no relevant previous convictions.

Jeffrey Jones representing Forbes said: “He had a designer clothing shop business which started in July 2022 and it was not performing well by November 2023.

“This gave rise to him taking drugs through anxiety and the business started having more debts that he couldn't then face and satisfy.”

Mr Jones added: “Running a shop in the High Street in Blackwood wasn't something that was easy.

“And indeed in November of 2023 the shop was flooded from flats above it giving rise to the business being temporarily closed.

“Clothing was being damaged and furniture had been damaged.”

The court was told Forbes is a married man with a young daughter.

The judge, Recorder David Elias KC, told the defendant he had read references from his partner, her mother and his grandmother.

“He said: “It is clear from those there is, as always, another side to you that the court should take account of.

“You are much loved by them and others.

“You can be, it would seem, a good family man.”

But Recorder Elias said Forbes’ offences were too serious for anything other than an immediate prison sentence.

He was jailed for three years.

The defendant could face a proceeds of crime hearing in September.