A Bideford drug dealer has been jailed after police set up a hidden camera to monitor his secret stash in on a farm track nicknamed Scratchy Face Lane.

Andrew Ferguson hid his supply of heroin in the lane near Bideford and visited it regularly to remove up to £2,000 worth of the drug, which he packaged and sold from his home.

He recruited two friends to help him in the business, one of whom drove him to Scratchy Face Lane and another who helped contact customers and bag up the drugs.

The group were caught after police learned of the secret hiding place and installed a camera to monitor it as Ferguson or his sidekick, Stephen Tyler, made 17 visits to pick up heroin during just two months.

The officers caught the pair red handed after swapping the heroin in the hidden tub for soil which weighed exactly the same amount and arresting them as they picked it up.

They raided Ferguson’s home in Marland Terrace, Bideford at the same time and arrested lodger Christopher Jarrad, who had been roped into the scheme.

Ferguson, 60, of Meddon Street, Bideford; Tyler, aged 58, of Cornmarket Street, Torrington; and Jarrad, aged 27, of Allhalland Street, Bideford, all admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin.

Ferguson was jailed for four years and six months; Tyler for three years and six months; and Jarrad for two years, suspended for two years with 150 hours unpaid community work by Judge Erik Salomonsen at Exeter Crown Court.

The judge told them: “Ferguson’s house has been described as a hippy house, supplying mainly to friends.

“This may not have been as professional as some operations, but it was still an organised arrangement.”

Sean Brunton, QC, prosecuting, said police started observations at Scratchy Face Lane from November 2016 until Ferguson and Tyler were arrested on January 13, 2017.

The amount seized on their arrest was 80 grams, with a potential street value of £8,000.

The total size of the operation was estimated at around £40,000 and the profit at £8,000 to £10,000.

There were two dealers lists, each showing transactions of around £2,000, and phone traffic indicating dealing.

A bundle of cash amounting to £810 was found down the back of Ferguson’s sofa and there were remains of plastic bags which had been cut up to make wraps found around the house.

Paul Grumbar, for Ferguson; Richard Crabb, for Tyler; and Emily Pitts, for Jarrad, all said their clients had been drawn into dealing through their own heroin habits.

Mr Grumbar said Ferguson did not make any real profit because he was smoking so much of the heroin. He developed his habit after his wife died in 2009.

Mr Crabb said Tyler did not realise what he was getting himself into. Miss Pitts said Jarrad only became involved by doing favours for his landlord.