Grommit the police dog was able to find a drug courier in a haystack after he tried to flee from his pursuers at Landkey.

William Free was transporting £1,400 of high purity cocaine from Taunton to Barnstaple when police stopped his BMW on the A361 North Devon Link Road, Exeter Crown Court has heard.

Free, aged 24, threw down the car keys and sprinted off when officers told him they were going to search his car and the fugitive jumped over fences as he ran towards farm buildings.

German shepherd Grommit followed his trail into a barn, where he found Free hiding in a pile of hay bales.

He gave himself up to police when the handler threatened to release the dog.

Officers later found two golf ball sized lumps of 91 per cent pure cocaine in the central console with a combined weight of just under 14 grams. A phone with orders for drugs was also seized.

In court, Free, of Angersleigh, near Taunton, admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply and was ordered to do 300 hours unpaid community work and 15 days of rehabilitation activities by Judge David Evans.

He told him he was not sending him to prison because he has turned his life around in the 10 months since he was arrested and is living a stable life with a partner and has a stable job as a scaffolder.

Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said police were monitoring Free's BMW as if headed from Somerset to Devon on the M5 and North Devon Link Road on August 2, 2018.

Free was initially cooperative when police stopped his car, but his attitude changed when he realised officers were searching for drugs.

Harry Ahuja, defending, said Free's only role was delivering the drugs on behalf of others and his only reward was to be a supply of some cocaine for himself.

He said he became involved with drugs as a way of coping with ADHD when he was a teenager and had moved on to develop a heavy cocaine habit.

His naivety had been exploited by those higher up the supply chain.

Mr Ahuja said Free stopped using cocaine on the day of his arrest and has been using a Chinese herbal therapist to wean himself off cannabis.