A DRUG dealer caught with heroin three times on the streets of York has been jailed for seven years.

Anthony James Ferguson, 45, did not stop his illegal trade despite being twice being charged with drug dealing offences and bailed, York Crown Court heard.

On May 13, a security company owner saw Ferguson pass heroin to a woman near the junction of Fossgate and Pavement and called police, said David Hall, prosecuting. Officers arrested Ferguson folowing a struggle in Colliergate.

He had £240 of heroin including four £10 wraps and £75 in cash.

On June 5, he had nine wraps of heroin in his rucksack and £183.77 on him when police stopped him on suspicion on a separate offence in Stonebow. He has a long record of shoplifting.

On July 11, he collapsed in Vine Street, Clementhorpe, and when police went to help him they found 12 wraps of heroin in his rucksack. A ball in his girlfriend’s nearby house contained enough heroin to make 55 wraps.

Altogether, they seized nearly £1,000 in heroin and nearly £500 in cash from him in less than two months. His only legitimate income was £72 a week sickness benefit.

They also found text messages on his phone, which police said were from drug users requesting sales.

Ferguson, formerly of Medway House in Walmgate, pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing heroin with intent to supply it to others and was jailed for seven years, his second lengthy drug dealing sentence. In 2002, he was given six-and-a-half years for possessing heroin with intent.

He claimed he “conned” fellow drug addicts into overpaying him when he bought heroin wholesale for them, or gave them wraps for free, and that the heroin found on him was to be shared between himself and his girlfriend.

On May 13 he found heroin lying in the gutter at the junction of Walmgate and St Denys Road and got the rest at £100 per 7g, though a police expert estimated the wholesale price for 7g was between £220 and £240.

He claimed the text messages were about a mate wanting to have a drink with him, a Staffordshire terrier owner wanting to breed his dog and a former employer enquiring if he was available for work.

Recorder Jonathan Carroll said his claims were not credible and declared he was selling drugs to raise money to support his own long-standing drug habit.

Ferguson’s barrister, Victoria Smith-Swain, said he had mental health problems and was now free of drugs.