A man who dealt heroin in Wrexham avoided immediate custody when he appeared for sentence at Mold Crown Court.

Stephen Lee Mathias, 42, had admitted possessing the class A drug with intent to supply when he earlier appeared at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court.

Yesterday his 22-month prison sentence was suspended for two years by the judge, Mr Recorder Duncan Bould, who told him he was giving him a significant opportunity.

He was taking an exceptional course which had not been an easy decision to reach, he said.

Mr Bould warned Mathias that he would have received a 30-month sentence if he had been convicted after trial.

It was clear that before he committed the offence he had made strenuous efforts to resolve his drug addiction, with the assistance of his parents.

Particular circumstances had arisen in his life which caused him to “spiral downwards” as far as his behaviour was concerned, said Mr Bould.

It was noteworthy that while he had a drug addiction in the past he had never stooped to street dealing in the past.

There was a significant gap between the offending in March of last year and his sentencing and in that period he had sought assistance with his addiction.

He had taken assistance with his mental health, he was on prescribed drugs and was now “free of the grip of heroin” and providing negative drug tests.

Mr Bould said that he took into account the low ebb he must have reached at the time of the offending and the significant degree of progress he had since made.

“There is hope at least that your battle against drug addiction might succeed,” he said.

Prosecuting barrister Paulinus Barnes said that police executed a search warrant at his home in Bryn Rhedyn in Southsea, Wrexham, on March 7 last year.

It was alleged that he tried to remove items from his bedroom but he was restrained and heroin to the value of £94 had been found. A dealer’s list had also been discovered.

Mathias had previous convictions for 24 offences, including drugs offences but nothing involving supply.

Catherine Jagger, defending, said that that her client had pleaded guilty at a very early stage at the magistrates’ court.

He had been found with a small amount of heroin and the number of text messages were limited.

The offence was a year old and since that time there had been quite dramatic changes in his life, said Miss Jagger.

He was co-operating with the drugs services and other agencies.

It was clear from references that he had changed his ways and he had a very supportive family.

He had made great progress in changing his life and he had “a desire to maintain that commitment”, said Miss Jagger.