A BIG issue seller spotted dealing drugs in Dorchester town centre has been jailed.

A woman shopping with her daughter in the town saw Steven Frederick Bevan, 47, handing over a wrap of cannabis to another man on August 14 last year.

He admitted a charge of supplying the Class B drug in relation to that offence, claiming she had seen him giving cannabis to a friend.

However, Bevan denied a charge of possessing cannabis with intent to supply in relation to the 37 grams of the drug that were found on him when he was subsequently searched by police.

He stood trial on the second charge at Dorchester Crown Court and Bevan was convicted on a majority verdict.

In a statement read to the jury in the trial, the witness described how she was in South Street on the day in question when her attention was drawn to the Big Issue seller and another man. She said: “There was an exchange between the two men which appeared fumbled, it was not smooth.

“I had a clear view of what had taken place and could see that a small clear bag had been handed over.

“I know this was a drug deal taking place.”

She contacted the police and Bevan was arrested shortly afterwards.

He handed over two clear bags containing cannabis to the arresting officers as well as a wallet containing a set of scales.

Bevan denied that the rest of the drugs were intended to be supplied to others.

Giving evidence to the jury, he said he was sleeping rough at the time of the alleged offence and had done for much of the last 25 to 30 years.

Bevan claimed he had been given the cannabis by a friend and it would last him several months for personal use.

He said: “I don’t do dealing, I just sort myself out with cannabis.”

Following his conviction, the court was told Bevan had 20 previous convictions for a total of 50 offences, some of which were drug related.

Jamie Porter, mitigating, said his client had used the drug as pain relief for various health conditions he suffered from.

Judge Roger Jarvis sentenced Bevan to 12 months in prison for each of the offences, to be served concurrently.

He said: “This operation was brazenly carried out in the busiest street in Dorchester, indifferent to the sensitivities of shoppers and careless as to who saw you.”

The judge also praised the role of the woman in reporting what she had seen.

He said: “She is to be commended for reporting this to the police.”