A MAJOR York drug dealer who also took part in a failed attempt to steal a cash machine, has been jailed for 13 years.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, told York Crown Court how Ethan Wharton, 38, ran a heroin and cocaine supply route from Bradford to York and operated a group of lesser dealers selling the drugs on to addicts.

He said that Wharton and his accomplices threw drugs from cars into the countryside near York on two occasions in unsuccessful bids to keep them away from police following them.

Wharton was also part of a night-time smash and grab operation to steal a cash machine during which he and others stole a telescopic handler, forcibly adapted it and drove it repeatedly at speed into a wall containing the ATM at Penny Petroleum in Dunnington.

But despite causing £46,000 damage, the gang was unable to get the ATM and had to flee empty handed in a hire van they had also vandalised to make into their getaway vehicle.

He was still running the Bradford to York operation when police caught him on the A19 near Thirsk with £3,300 in counterfeit £20 notes, said Mr Storey.

“You were at the time steeped in crime,” Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Wharton, whom he described as a “professional criminal”.

He called the ATM raid “professionally planned and sophisticated”.

The judge said: “Since then and in all likelihood because of your own use drug use, your mental health has deteriorated.”

He jailed Wharton for 13 years and added a condition that he start his sentence in a medium secure psychiatric hospital in Cambridgeshire and when the doctors believe he no longer needs hospital treatment, will be sent to prison to finish his sentence.

On release Wharton will have to abide indefinitely by conditions set by doctors as well as his parole conditions.

The judge heard and read evidence from consultant psychiatrists that Wharton was suffering from a psychotic and possibly schizophrenic condition that had started after his crimes.

Wharton, formerly of York and a caravan site in Stokesley, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine in September 2014, conspiracy to supply Class A drugs from July 1 to November 4, 2015 and having counterfeit notes in August 2015.

He denied conspiracy to steal the ATM in June 2015 but was convicted at a trial earlier this year.

For him, Sean Smith said the crimes had been committed over a short period of time.

Six people are already serving sentences for their part in the Bradford-York gang including three who ran a heroin and cocaine shop from their York flat and two more men were jailed last year for their part in the ATM raid.