INVESTIGATORS are disappointed that a drug dealer has been spared jail after using instant messaging service WhatsApp to ply his trade in former legal high NRG.

Simon Huckvale was using the smartphone app to contact users while selling the class B drug last year.

But after hearing the 25-year-old was sorry for what he had done and had no previous drugs convictions, a judge imposed a suspended sentence.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court police stopped Huckvale’s van at 8.30pm on December 20 and noticed a strong smell of cannabis.

“Some cannabis was recovered and two significant quantities of what is known as NRG, formerly a so-called legal high,” he said.

“The occupants were searched and this defendant’s girlfriend had a couple of bags of powder hidden in her bra which he had given to her moments before.

“The vehicle was further searched and micro scales were recovered with traces of powder on them.

“Also at his home were a number of self snap seal bags – the general paraphernalia of a dealer.”

Officers recovered about 30 grams of the drug which he said equated to ‘between £300 and £600 worth of stock in trade’.

Mr Meeke said when his mobile phone was examined it was found he had been using WhatsApp for dealing.

Huckvale, of White Castle, Toothill, pleaded guilty to possessing drugs with intent to supply.

Chris Oswald, defending, said: “In terms of the amount found on him it is a relatively small amount.

“He has no relevant drugs convictions.

“What has been acknowledged in the report is the amount of remorse.”

Passing sentence, Judge Tim Mousley QC said: “You were stopped in your van and further investigation revealed a number of incriminating text messages on your phone which indicated the level of dealing.

“You undoubtedly were an established dealer in these drugs for some time. You are 25 and I have read a report and you have no previous for drugs matters.

“For all the reasons set out in the pre-sentence report I am persuaded to suspend the period of imprisonment which I must impose on you today.”

He passed an eight-month jail term suspended for two years and told him to do the thinking skills course and 150 hours of unpaid work.

PC Steve Yeates, beat manager for Toohill and Freshbrook, said he did not feel the sentence reflected the level of dealing or the lengthy police investigation involved.

“This is a bit disappointing for him to get almost nothing in court,” said PC Yeates.

“He was arrested around December 2013 after being stopped for a drug search while in his car on Queens Drive, and he had an amount of drugs on him. There were other people in the car who had bits on them.

“This was quite a long investigation into the phone records where we managed to retrieve a great deal of evidence from the phone records.

“We will keep working on drugs and stay on top of known dealers. He may stop, and we hope he does, but he is on our radar now and he has to be careful.”