TWO drug dealers caught with a stash of drugs while at the pumps of a petrol station have been given 'a final chance' and handed a community punishment.

Leon Cole, 22, of Alma Road, Banbury, and Reece Tickell, 24, of Acacia Avenue, Greater Leys, Oxford, were spared jailed for drug dealing charges at a sentencing hearing held at Oxford Crown Court yesterday.

They had both already admitted two counts each of possession with intent to supply class A drugs - heroin and cocaine.

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Outlining the case prosecutor Kim Preston said that the men were first spotted by eagle-eyed officers at the BP garage, Woodstock Road, on the night of January 30.

Cole and Tickell were sitting inside a car which was pulled up at one of the pumps and when officers got nearer the men tried to 'cover their faces'.

Suspicious, police then pulled up behind them and on approach they could smell cannabis coming from inside the car.

The Oxford Times:

Oxford Crown Court, St Aldates.

Officers went on to search the men for drugs and discovered a haul of drugs worth nearly £500.

In all they found 41 wraps made up of 32 £10 wraps of heroin, six £10 wraps of crack cocaine and three larger £25 deals of cocaine.

The total value of the drugs seized was about £455.

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During arrest Cole 'struggled' with officers but both men were eventually taken to the police station.

A further search while there revealed another small quantity of drugs stashed in Cole's underwear.

A phone was also analysed which prosecutors called a 'dirty phone' with evidence of drug dealing messages made on Snapchat.

The Oxford Times:

It was also revealed how both men have a number of previous convictions, with Cole having 18 previous crimes to his name compared to Tickell's 10.

In mitigation at the hearing Paul Webb said that his client, Tickell, was sorry for what he had done.

He said: "He expresses his remorse and that appears to be genuine."

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He added that his client had suffered with alcoholism and had been homeless for a time before the offence.

Peter Du Feu, representing Cole, said that his client had also suffered from substance misuse problems.

Sentencing, Judge Nigel Daly said that ordinarily both would serve prison sentences of up to 43 months for the crimes, but he would give the pair 'one final chance' for rehabilitation.

The Oxford Times:

He said: "This is your last chance. Take it."

Both were made subject to a community order for two years to include 100 hours of unpaid work and 25 days rehabilitation activity requirement.

Cole was also made subject to a drug rehabilitation requirement and Tickell a 12-month alcohol treatment requirement.

They must also each pay a statutory victim surcharge.