A WOMAN drug dealer caught in a police sting operation has been spared a jail sentence.

Bolton Crown Court heard how undercover police officers working on Operation Maxima twice rang a phone number to order heroin and cocaine on July 26 and 27.

Andrew Macintosh, prosecuting, said each time they were directed to a location near a petrol station where they were met by Julie Gilligan who sold them two wraps of heroin and a wrap of cocaine on each occasion for £35.

Gilligan, who has a lengthy criminal record for offences including prostitution, dishonesty, blackmail and drugs, pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying cocaine and two counts of supplying heroin.

Andrew Costello, defending, said Gilligan, aged 50, of Longcauseway, Farnworth, has had a hard life and now has serious health problems.

He added that at the time of the offences she had turned to drugs to “numb the pain” of recent bereavements and was dealing to pay for her own use.

“She is one of those people who can clearly be described by society as vulnerable,” he said.

Judge Elliot Knopf told Gilligan that, after hearing about her life, he was “taking an exceptionally merciful course and not sending you to prison today.”

Instead Gilligan was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years.

She will also be subject to an electronically tagged six-month curfew from 8pm to 6am, undergo supervision for 18 months and take part in the Eve’s Space activity sessions.