A 59-year-old was stopped by police transporting thousands of pounds worth of cocaine around in a white van - which he was delivering to Newbury pubs.

Paul Oakes, of St Mary's Road, Newbury, was stopped by police on August 11, 2022, while on a drug delivery round.

Around £5,500 of cocaine was seized from the van, as well as £130 in cash.

Oakes admitted to possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply, claiming he was working as a 'delivery boy' for a dealer.

At Oakes' sentencing hearing today (March 26), prosecuting barrister Richard Herrmann said: "He made full admissions, telling police he was selling drugs to pay off his own drug debt."

In accounting for the sheer quantity of drugs found, Oakes has claimed his dealer contact accidentally gave him an excessively large amount of cocaine to sell.

But Judge Louis Weston derided this story as 'absolute nonsense', joking that the dealer would have had to have made a 'terrible mistake'.

Oakes has a number of previous drug convictions, but his record showed him to have refrained from offending for some time leading up to the 2022 arrest.

Judge Weston expressed his disappointment, telling Oakes: "For a long period of time, you appeared to be able to keep away from criminality, and, until this matter, there had been a very substantial break in your offending.

"I found that to be very interesting, and also very compelling, because it demonstrates that you are a person who is able to avoid crime.

"However, in the facts of this case, what happened was, you were using drugs, and in order to pay off your drug bill - or buy further drugs - you agreed to act as a courier."

Despite the large quantity of cocaine involved, Judge Weston resolved that a prison sentence would be inappropriate in this case.

He told Oakes: "For someone of your age, being put into prison would be hugely disruptive. It isn't going to give you a chance to clear your life of drugs."

The defendant has instead been made subject to a 30-month community order, including 30 days of rehabilitation activities and a nine-month drug review requirement.

He will also be subject to three months of electronic monitoring.