An up-and-coming young boxer who "turned to drugs after seeing a friend stabbed" was caught with £1,000 worth of cocaine outside an entertainment complex.
Callum Gallacher was given a five-month jail sentence last week after he admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply and simple possession.
But the sentence was suspended after Ards Magistrates Court heard how the 21-year-old east Belfast man was battling drug addiction.
Police arrested Gallacher after finding 49 grammes of cocaine as well as digital scales and small bags in the boot of his car in Dundonald at 9.15pm on July 29 last year.
His car was parked at the edge of the East Point Entertainment Village, with several men in it and cannabis smoke coming from the vehicle.
Gallacher was behind the wheel and cops found a small amount of herbal cannabis on his person.
It appears you have attempted to mend your ways, but drugs are a scourge on society and supplying them even more so. The court must reflect the seriousness of thatDeputy District Judge Austin Kennedy
They went on to find the cocaine, the dealing equipment and a quantity of what the court heard were suspected to be anabolic steroids in the boot.
After being arrested, Gallacher, of Belfast's Garnerville Park, told the cops he'd started dealing to fund his own habit.
According to a prosecution lawyer the 49 grammes of cocaine had an estimated street value of around £1,000.
Defence lawyer Conan Rea told the court that Gallacher took to drugs after developing mental health problems following his friend's stabbing.
Mr Rea added: "It's clear his life and addiction had spiralled out of control.
"As his habit increased he started dealing to a small circle of friends, as a result he was effectively getting drugs for free."
Handing in character references from the manager of Gallacher's boxing club, a former teacher and the charity Addiction NI, Mr Rea said that the young man had already sought help for his drug problem. "He comes from a good home, his father is here in court with him today," said the lawyer. "The Probation Service are happy with the work he has done himself with Addiction NI."
Deputy District Judge Austin Kennedy told Gallacher: "It appears you have attempted to mend your ways, but drugs are a scourge on society and supplying them even more so. The court must reflect the seriousness of that."
Kennedy was sentenced to four months in jail for possessing cocaine with intent to supply and one month for possessing cannabis. Both prison sentences were suspended for two years.