A DRUG dealer is starting a four year jail sentence after he was caught with heroin on the streets of York.

Homeless beggar Patrick Hamilton, 49, was found with wraps of heroin in September 2014, but was only sentenced last week due to his severe ill health delaying the hearing.

York Crown Court heard how police twice spotted Hamilton “making an exchange of cash” in alleyways around York more than three years ago, according to David Ward, prosecuting.

Hamilton fled the first time when he was seen in Carr’s Lane, but another man was caught and was found with four wraps of heroin.

Another officer saw Hamilton two days later near the City Walls and this time he was stopped and arrested after a chase.

When his former home was searched, police found £265 of cash, a mobile phone with text messages detailing arrangements for meetings, and heroin with a street value of £65 split into £10 bags.

Mr Ward said: “The defendant said the heroin was for his own use and the cash was being saved up so he could buy a car.”

Mark Partridge, defending Hamilton, told the court the defendant has reduced his use of the Class A drug from five or six bags a day to one.

He added: “The defendant is in a very difficult position medically and it’s a very difficult set of symptoms which are hard to treat in prison.

“He hopes to reduce his intake of heroin further, but does not want to go down the route of taking methadone to do that, because he feels it would result in another addiction.”

Hamilton pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to supply heroin and was jailed for four years for each offence, which will be served concurrently.

Judge Paul Batty, QC, the Honourary Recorder of York, said: “You have a whole series of health problems and homelessness is your status.

“The matter is made more serious by the amount of money you had and is further aggravated by a relevant recent conviction of intent to supply in January 2007.

“This is not a lesser role, it’s a clearly significant role of dealing in heroin.

“You were seen doing it and were caught red-handed.”