A cannabis dealer who upgraded to selling heroin has been jailed after police spotted him handing over drugs in an Ilfracombe alleyway.

George Gill was already subject to a suspended sentence when police found him with nine wraps of heroin and £880 cash from previous sales.

His phone had a message from a user arranging to meet him in a narrow lane in the centre of the town, which is nicknamed Skinny Alley.

He was arrested three months after being let off with a suspended sentence at Exeter Crown Court after a jury found him guilty of cannabis dealing.

He claimed he was forced back into selling cannabis and heroin because he owed money to a dealer who told him he would ‘kick his head in’ if he didn’t comply.

Gill, aged 29, of Coronation Terrace, Ilfracombe, admitted possession of heroin and cannabis with intent to supply and was jailed for two years and nine months by Recorder Mr Richard Mawhinney.

He told him: “Your role was in part significant and in part lower. On the one hand, you were motivated by financial gain and continuing to receive drugs, but I accept there was a degree of coercion.”

Rachel Drake, prosecuting, said police saw Gill exchanging a package with a known user in the alley in the centre of Ilfracombe.

He had nine wraps of heroin with a street value of £170 and two bags of herbal cannabis weighing 40 grams and worth £410. A search of his flat found £880 cash under the bed. A message on his phone showed the meeting in Skinny Alley had been arranged in advance.

Emily Cook, defending, said Gill had been forced into dealing by threats of violence and was acting at the bottom end of the supply chain with no influence on those above him. The money was all going to be handed over and his only benefit was in having his debt reduced.

Gill has been in the grip of addiction for several years and it has caused a series of health issues. He plans to overcome his habit while in jail.

She called Gill to give evidence and he said he owed £700 to a man he knew only as Ace who had threatened to kick his head in unless he worked for him as a street dealer.

In his previous trial at Exeter Crown Court in November 2018, the jury heard how Gill kept a list of his customers on a white board at his home.

He made thousands of pounds out of selling cannabis in North Devon and police caught him with £1,900 worth of the drug and £863.49 cash when they raided his home.

They also found notes and a whiteboard on which he kept a ‘tick list’ of how much he was owed by at least 13 customers which added up to £5,365.