A CHEF from Ambleside who was peddling cannabis and cocaine blamed his crimes on being jobless.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that Liam Ellison – whose work had dried up because of the pandemic – was brought to justice after police raided his home and found strong evidence of his dealing.

It included 48 wraps of cocaine worth £2,400 and 11 street deals of cannabis worth £440.

The 29-year-old admitted possessing both drugs with intent to supply. Police also recovered weapons, including a replica handgun and a knuckle-duster.

Recorder Abigail Hudson said text messages found on two mobile phones seized from the defendant provided evidence of a 'reasonably sophisticated' and ongoing involvement in the drugs trade.

The defendant’s previous convictions for violence and the presence of weapons at his home will have combined to make him an 'intimidating figure', said the judge.

She ruled that Ellison had played a 'significant role' in a dealing operation.

Referring to the defendant’s mitigation, the judge noted that Ellison had claimed he set up as a drug dealer because his work as a chef had dried up do to the pandemic.

“It caused job losses from April, 2020,” said the Recorder.

“You assert that you did this because you were desperate for food.

“I don’t accept that.

“There were a wealth of choices available to you to obtain food and at the time your girlfriend was on furlough and you were entitled to benefits.

“There was money coming in.”

The judge said drugs 'destroy lives' and Ellison’s decision to supply cocaine showed his 'profound self-interest'.

Though his Asperger’s syndrome may reduce his ability to empathise, the judge said that most people with the condition do not become drug dealers.

Furthermore, the defendant, of Eden View, Ambleside, was clearly a high-functioning sufferer of the condition and clearly a capable man.

She jailed Ellison for 37 months, ruling that 15 days of that term can be counted as served due to him having been on a curfew before sentence.