A TAXI driver from Dorset supplemented his income by selling cocaine, a court heard.

Richard Mitchell, 41, was handed a community order after admitting possessing cocaine with intent to supply, and possessing cannabis.

In the hearing at Dorchester Crown Court, prosecutor Carolyn Branford-Wood said the offences came to light when police officers executed a drugs warrant on September 16.

They stopped and searched his car on Cheap Street in Sherborne and his address at the time.

They discovered 17 packages containing 13.2 grams of cocaine worth around £680, as well as two bags of cannabis, £800 cash and drugs paraphernalia.

Miss Branford-Wood added: “He co-operated with the police throughout and said the drugs were for personal use, and that he only sold a little to top up what he made as a taxi driver.”

In mitigation, Lawrence Wilcox told the court that the cash had been earned legitimately by Mitchell, of South Avenue.

He said that being brought before the courts has been a ‘wake-up call’ for the defendant, who has no previous convictions.

Judge Roger Jarvis ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work as part of a community order, which also includes supervision and drugs rehabilitation requirements.

He ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs.

Judge Jarvis said: “Offences such as these put you at risk of going to prison for three years or more and I hope that emphasises the sheer stupidity of the way you have behaved.”

A prison sentence would be ‘contrary to the interests of justice’ in light of Mitchell’s previous good character, he added.

“If you fail to comply with the requirements of this community order you can expect a prison sentence.”