A TEENAGE drug dealer caught with dozens of wraps of Class A drugs in a city centre ‘hotspot’ has been given six months to prove himself or face jail.

In the dock at Oxford Crown Court yesterday was 18-year-old Charlie Hodge of Windmill Road, Oxford.

He had already admitted two counts of possession with intent to supply heroin and cocaine ahead of his sentencing.

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Prosecutor Jane Brady said that Hodge was just 17 when he was caught, along with two others, near Oxford Ice Rink at Oxpens Road on January 29 last year.

She described the area as a city centre ‘hotspot’ for drugs and said that when two patrolling police officers approached the group they could smell cannabis in the air and so they decided to carry out a search.

On Hodge, the court heard, they found a haul of Class A drugs, including 27 wraps of cocaine along with 18 of heroin, as well as £111.30 in cash and two mobile phones.

Hodge was duly arrested before he was charged.

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In mitigation yesterday, his defence barrister Angus Mathieson said that his client did not act in a senior position in the drugs chain and called him a ‘foot soldier’ in the drug dealing enterprise.

He said: “He is not involved in directing anybody else, he is not in any operational management function, he is not a lieutenant, he is performing a limited function.

“He is somewhat immature for his age and more [susceptible] to pressure and subtle coercion I would submit.”

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He added that Hodge was in significant debt to cannabis dealers at the time in order to feed his own habit and had fallen into dealing drugs while at a supported living hostel.

Mr Mathieson urged the court for leniency in light of his client’s age and commitment to turning his life around.

Sentencing, Judge Ian Pringle QC said that he would give Hodge a chance to prove himself before passing sentence.

He said: “It is epidemic what these drugs are doing to our society, in this country.

“And as a result for many years the courts have taken a firm and clear view that those who deal drugs on our streets will lose their liberty.

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“There are a lot of people who know you well, have known you most of your life, who think very highly of you and think that you do have potential.

“Were I to simply pass what many would say is a deserved prison sentence, I feel it would be condemning you for the rest of your adult life so I am going to give you a chance.”

The sentencing hearing was adjourned for six months until July 26 while Hodge takes part in rehabilitative work.

Judge Pringle reserved the case to himself and will decide the final sentence which will be held at a hearing at the same court later this year.