POLICE caught a drug dealer because he was undertaking at 100mph on the A64 near York, a court heard.

When officers tried to get law graduate Richard James Townsend, 36, to stop his motorbike, he speeded up to more than 120mph, said John Hobley, prosecuting.

So police pursued him and when they caught up with him, they found cocaine dealing messages on his mobile phone.

They also tracked down the package of cocaine and cash he threw away as he fled at high speed in an attempt to avoid police finding out his drug activities.

Townsend, of Station Road, Riccall, pleaded guilty at York Crown Court to possessing cocaine with intent to supply it and dangerous driving.

He was jailed for three years and banned from driving for two and a half years. He must take an extended driving test before driving alone again.

The Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris, said he could have killed someone as he tried to get away from the police.

Mr Hobley said police spotted Townsend doing more than 100mph and undertaking other vehicles on the eastbound carriageway of the A64 at 8.15pm on July 31 last year.

In the six-mile chase, he outdistanced the police car when it was doing 120mph.

Townsend went through two red lights, weaving through stationary traffic at one and forcing a vehicle coming the other way to take evasive action.

He also went at high speed through residential Wheldrake.

As he fled, he threw a package of seven cocaine wraps and £390 into a hedgerow.

But police spotted his action, searched the hedgerow and found the drugs and cash.

Gearbox problems stopped Townsend after six minutes.

For Townsend, Becky Jane said he got a law degree at Manchester and also studied in North Carolina, in the USA.

He had been dealing for two weeks before he was caught. Last year he had lost his job through redundancy.

“He says that was the tipping point for him,” she said.

“He had been working and that suddenly stopped and exacerbated what was already a crippling problem for him by way of drug dependency.”

Ms Jane told the court that Townsend had set up a successful business after finishing his studies.