A JUDGE warned a teenage Cirencester drug dealer to "watch it" as he hesitantly suspended his sentence and gave him the chance to work with the probation service to beat his addiction.

Seamus Ratcliffe, 18, of no fixed address, had pleaded guilty to having cannabis and ecstasy with intent to supply in Cirencester - an offence that would usually result in a four and a half year prison sentence.

But at Gloucester Crown Court, Recorder Paul Grumbar, said although he had reservations, he would make an exception and give Ratcliffe one chance.

He passed a two year sentence in a young offenders institution but suspended it for two years.

Prosecutor Caroline Bolt said a police CCTV operator saw Ratcliffe on the bandstand in the Abbey grounds 'acting suspiciously.'

Officers were sent to the scene and could smell cannabis on him. Ratcliffe admitted he had a 'spliff for personal use' and when the officers said they were going to search him he tried to flee but was stopped and arrested.

In his rucksack the police found 12.9 grams of cannabis, digital scales, a mobile phone, £1,305 in cash and 21 Ecstasy tablets.

Despite those findings, Ratcliffe continued to insist the drugs were for his own use and he said any drug dealing messages found on his phone were not from him.

He claimed the cash in his rucksack was from his earnings as a window cleaner and Christmas and birthday gifts.

Messages found on his phone related to drug dealing between December 31 and January 3, but police believed he had wiped earlier messages, the prosecutor said.

Defending, Sarah Jenkins said Ratcliffe was only supplying to a small group of friends to make enough money to pay bills and fund his own drug habit.

"It wasn't a huge drug operation, he was just known to a few friends as someone who could get drugs. His phone had a limited number of calls and all to contacts within his phone," she said.

Ratcliffe had been so worried about his fate that he had made some self-harm attempts since his arrest and was losing hair through the stress, she said.

She asked the Recorder to consider her client's age and vulnerability if put into the prison system.

The Recorder told Ratcliffe: "Arguably you were doing this for money to support a long standing drug habit as well as pay bills and the quantities were not enormous.

"But you were seen on CCTV with bags and cash and it is clear what you were doing and that you knew what you were doing so I am not inspired to have a lot of confidence in you.

"It is with a great deal of hesitation and reservation that I make an exception in your case and I hope you don't let me down.

"I am going to give you the maximum sentence I can suspend which is two years.

"You will also complete ten days of rehabilitation activity requirement and six months drug rehabilitation requirement.

"You will have to attend this court when you are told to and comply with the activities expected by probation.

"If you don't you will be reported by probation to this court and will be in breach of your sentence.

"It is usual for a defendant to be immediately sent to prison for that breach.

"I hope you understand and that you are being sincere.

"This really is your last chance so watch it!"