UNDERCOVER police officers found themselves in a queue to buy drugs after ordering heroin over the phone from a dealer.

Brian McKenna, prosecuting at Bolton Crown Court, said another man who had placed an order was already waiting by a telephone box on Worsley Road, Farnworth, when the officers turned up to make their purchase on April 23 last year.

At 12.35pm 45-year-old Steven Roberts arrived and asked them what they wanted to buy.

The officers were handed two wraps of heroin, for which they paid £20.

The transaction was filmed and on November 13 Robert’s home was raided by police and he was arrested as part of Operation Maxima, a police crackdown targeting illegal street drug dealing in Bolton.

Roberts, of Thornbank North, Deane, pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying heroin.

Martin Pizzey, defending, said Roberts was a former drug user who had managed to give up heroin but still owed a debt to his dealer.

He added that Roberts had been pressured into acting as a runner for the dealer, when he met the undercover police officers, in order to buy time to pay off a previous drug debt.

“He was in no strong position to resist and he engaged in this act on one single occasion. He did so reluctantly and took steps to stop it happening again,” said Mr Pizzey.

Judge Elliot Knopf told Roberts he had been caught due to the covert activities of “courageous police officers who were tasked with dealing with the plague of drugs on the streets of our town.

“It was remarkably successful in the apprehension of a number of individuals.”

But he added there was no evidence that Roberts had sold drugs after April last year.

“I’m prepared to accept this was a foolish mistake on your part for which you show genuine remorse,” Judge Knopf told him.

Roberts was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years and will be subject to a four month electronically tagged curfew from 8pm to 6am.

He must also take part in activity sessions.