A man caught bagging up a £12,700 stash of high-purity crack cocaine has been spared an immediate prison sentence after making huge strides to turn his life around.

The judge, Recorder Sam Green QC, told Waqas Raja that help in the community would do him more good than being locked up in “a Covid-riddled establishment” for little over a year with no intervention.

Raja, 28, of Hilton Grove, Shipley, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and heroin between January 1 and April 10 last year.

Prosecutor Paul Nicholson told Bradford Crown Court that police searched his then address in Chellowfield Court, Heaton, Bradford, on April 9, 2019.

They seized 169 grams of crack cocaine with a purity of 60 to 92% and a street value of £12,700. Also discovered was £875 worth of heroin of 60% purity, and drugs paraphernalia including a dealer list, bags, scales and caffeine and paracetamol cutting agent.

Raja was immediately frank with the police, telling them he was on Jobseekers’ Allowance and in debt. He said he smoked cannabis most days and occasionally used cocaine.

Mr Nicholson said he had no previous convictions for drugs trafficking offences.

Raja’s barrister, Shufqat Khan, urged the court to give him a chance.

He had written to the judge expressing his dismay and repentance, and sorrow for tarnishing the reputation of his highly-regarded family.

Raja’s father had also written “an articulate and heartfelt” letter. Mr Khan said that in early 2019, his client’s life was spiralling out of control. He had moved out of the family home and got in with the wrong company. He had since turned his life around, asking his father for forgiveness and obtaining full-time employment as a boiler fitter.

Raja was drug free and keen to build a new future after making a huge mistake.

Recorder Green sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He must obey a 12 month electronically monitored curfew order and undertake 30 rehabilitation activity days with the probation service. Raja was also ordered to pay £200 towards the costs of the prosecution.

Recorder Green said he was a young man who had shown genuine remorse.

His offending had caused his father “emotional agony” detailed in a moving letter. His son was no longer in the pocket of the drug dealers and the family was rallying round to support him. “It’s not going to do you any good to go to a Covid-riddled establishment with no intervention,” the Recorder said.