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Drug users conned.

A drug conman who sold sand to undercover police officers claiming it was heroin has been spared jail.

Crafty Michael O'Brien charged unsuspecting drug users pounds 10 a time for silver foil-wrapped deals of sand. Sometimes he sold them grit instead.

Reformed addict O'Brien, 34, said the female officer and two male colleagues had been pestering him for days for heroin.

The officers were part of Durham Police's Operation Thespian cracking down on heroin dealers operating in the centre of Darlington.

O'Brien led them to real dealers' addresses, including one man now serving seven years for drug supply, before slipping them the sand, prosecutor Shaun Dodds told Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

Judge George Moorhouse said it was like obtaining money by deception.

Tom Mitchell defending said O'Brien, a former burglar, had no intention of supplying drugs.

He told the court: "He regularly walked around with wraps of sand.

"It's no excuse what he did, he should not have offered to provide drugs."

O'Brien, from North Lodge Terrace, Darlington, admitted two offences of offering to supply Class A drugs in June last year.

He was given a seven months jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, with 12 months supervision.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 13, 2006
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