A DRUG courier was caught red handed by police after they spotted him smoking cannabis in a churchyard where he had just handed over £3,646 worth of heroin and crack.

Louis Wilding had £1,765 in his pocket and the two men he was with had 171 wraps of crack cocaine and 193 of heroin which he had brought to Devon from Andover.

The 19-year-old suffers from Asperger Syndrome and was exploited by a County Lines drug gang after running up a debt for cannabis.

He was spared an immediate jail sentence at Exeter Crown Court on December 17 after a judge ruled that the gang had taken advantage of his vulnerability.

Wilding, formerly of Andover but now of Lower Way, Thatcham, admitted possession of heroin and crack with intent to supply and possession of criminal property.

He was jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years and ordered to do 80 hours unpaid community work by Judge Peter Johnson.

Judge Johnson said: “You are a young lad with a number of difficulties who tried to fit in with friends and turned to the use of cannabis and you inevitably ran up debts. You inevitably ran up debts and got more heavily involved in the supply of drugs.

“You were clearly imposed upon to come down to Exeter, where you picked up cash. You were caught because you were an amateur and behaved amateurishly.

“There is a lot of mitigation. You have a good understanding of what you have done and the damage that drugs do to society. You have a loving and supportive family. You are at a crossroads in your life.”

Kelly Scrivener, prosecuting, said police saw three men smoking cannabis in St David’s church yard in Exeter on December 22 last year. They recovered the cash from Wilding and the drugs from the other men and he later admitted acting as courier in return for a £110 share of the money.

Kaj Scarsbrook, defending, said Wilding had been diagnosed as being on the autistic scale at primary school and was targeted by dealers because he is vulnerable and suggestible.

His family had been subjected to threats after his arrest and he had been forced to move from Andover.