A TEENAGER who turned to drug dealing to help his hard-up mum make ends meet has been jailed for 18 months.

Liam Smith sold heroin and crack cocaine openly on streets surrounded by children and families near an out-of-town shopping centre.

But the 18-year-old was not aware that the ‘user’who had been given his details was in fact an undercover policeman.

The covert officer, using the name Stan, went to a bookies on Manchester Road on November 27 and spoke to a punter who gave him a number for a dealer.

The covert policeman and his colleague Cerys arranged to buy drugs from Smith close to The Manor Farm pub near Asda Wal-Mart later in the day.

When they met up with the teen, he supplied them with two wraps of heroin for £40. The following day they called his number again and bought more heroin and cocaine from him.

When the officer asked if that was the normal place to meet him, he replied: “Yes, spread the word.”

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, said: “He carried out both deals in a public place in the presence of children and families.”

Smith, of Beech Avenue, Pine-hurst, pleaded guilty to three counts of supplying class A drugs.

Rob Ross, defending, told the court his client had a low IQ and other problems but had not been in trouble with the police before.

He said: “His mother has written a letter to me which I have no problem with you seeing. It is clear that she herself was having huge financial difficulties and had to declare herself bankrupt.

“She indicates because of Liam’s position, I think when the offending took place he was just 18 years of age, he very much depended upon her.

“She has obviously spoken to him at length about these offences.

“It would appear that him being a heavy user of cannabis, he got into debt. He saw this as a way possibly of not only helping himself get out of debt.

“But also, in probably a very naive way, thought it might provide some money for his mother.

“The undercover police officer Stan said he was taken aback in that the deal was conducted in quite such an open way.

“That doesn’t indicate a drug dealer who actually knows what he is doing.”

Jailing him, Judge Tim Mousley QC said: “I have read the extensive documentation that has been put before me from the psychiatrist, from various psychologists, education authorities, and the probation office.

“All of these documents point out that you are a young man who has had very significant problems in your life.

“When it comes to sentencing you I have got to balance these features against what is a very serious offence.”