Evil drugs barons used an “immature and naïve” teenage boy to ferry cocaine 60 miles to Llandudno in a 'County Lines' operation, a court heard.

Martin Stroud, now 18, of Barmouth Way, Liverpool, was given £500 a week to pay for his own cocaine habit.

The case took two years to reach Caernarfon Crown Court because of what the judge called “an inordinate delay”.

Stroud was “exceptionally” given a two-year community order with thinking skills and rehabilitation programmes and 200 hours of unpaid work.

His barrister Anthony Rose explained to Judge Huw Rees – who had asked the CPS for an explanation for the delay – that had Stroud been prosecuted promptly he would have most likely been dealt with at a youth court and given a referral order.

Stroud, who was brought to court by a social worker, pleaded guilty to having crack cocaine with intent to supply to others at Llandudno in January 2017.

“I form the view that you are young, naïve and immature,” declared the judge.

An accomplice Jordan Bassey-Smith, 24, of Toxteth, Liverpool, said to have been paid between £300 and £500 weekly, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine, having a lock knife with him, and possessing cannabis.

With a Liverpool boy who was then 15, and who will face a youth court, they had been arrested in a van driven by another man, of about 40, after leaving a house in Ty Gwyn Road, Llandudno.

Richard Edwards, prosecuting, said it was part of a 'County Lines' operation to supply Class A drugs on the streets of North Wales.

A search of the van revealed £1,900 in cash and there were three wraps of cocaine above the driver’s door.

A cannabis grinder, mobile phones, £76 in cash and a lock knife were recovered from Bassey-Smith. Messages and drugs contacts were revealed in the phones.

Ken Heckle, defending Bassey-Smith, said : “He was directed by others more sophisticated.” He had previous offences for possessing cannabis, “which got him into this sort of offence.” Mr Heckle added : “There is another side to him and he can re-invent himself.”

For Stroud, Mr Rose said he was very a very vulnerable youth who had been targeted “by very sophisticated drug dealers in Liverpool.”

The judge told Stroud: “You were a user of cocaine and were recruited by others as a means of paying for your own drugs.”