A MAN has escaped prison by "the skin of his teeth" after admitting storing cocaine at his home for dealers.

At Bolton Crown Court Ian Hampton told how a male relative had visited and asked him to keep a bag for him, which would be collected a couple of days later.

Hampton, aged 41, agreed and did not know what the bag contained, but admitted that he suspected it was drugs.

Shortly before he was due to go on trial, Hampton pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and at Bolton Crown Court he was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work.

The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh, told him that only delays in bringing the case to court and his lack of offending since, saved him from going to prison immediately.

"I want to make it crystal clear to you — if you fail to do the unpaid work, I promise you, you will be going to custody," Judge Walsh told Hampton.

"You have escaped going to prison immediately today by the skin of your teeth."

William Donnelly, prosecuting, told how, on August 24, 2018, Hampton's then home in Shipham Close, Leigh, was raided by police.

Two bags — one containing 85g of cocaine at 46 percent purity and the other containing 943g of benzocaine, a product which can be used for cutting drugs, were discovered.

Mr Donnelly added that, on the streets, the cocaine could be worth up to £4,250 or up to double that amount if it was adulterated with the benzocaine.

"The items were found in Mr Hampton's home. He was present at the time and provides a basis of plea that he was a custodian of the drugs," said Mr Donnelly.

Hampton stated that he was handed a bag by a family member shortly before the police arrived.

"He asked me if i could mind the bag for him for a couple of days — he would let me know when he was coming to get it back," he said.

"I accept that I knew the bag contained Class A drugs and agreed to hold them for him until he returned.

Peter Wilson, defending Hampton, now of Satinwood Crescent, Liverpool, said: "This was a stupid act. He is upset and angry with himself about this offence."

He added that the father-of-one, who is now expecting twins with his partner, has a criminal record but has managed to stay out of serious trouble for the last 10 years.