A JUDGE who spared a drug dealer from an immediate prison sentence warned him he will be jailed if he “gets caught with even a spliff”.

Tech worker Alexander Jay was caught drug dealing after police found incriminating messages on his phone – which had been seized as part of a separate investigation.

Jay, who pleaded guilty to dealing drugs including cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis, faced a prison sentence of more than two years.

But a court was told how the 22-year-old, who was previously of good character, was in the process of being assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

During his sentencing at Southampton Crown Court, Jay’s defence, barrister, Khalid Missouri, said his client “wanted to feel cool” and as a result was “suggestible” and “eager to please”.

He said Jay had been introduced to drugs through his former girlfriend and had later turned to selling drugs to fund his habit.

Prosecutor Tim Compton said that in August this year, Jay was arrested as part of a separate investigation and, as a result, gave over his phone.

Mr Compton said police found messages advertising the sale of cocaine, cannabis, ketamine, ecstasy powder and ecstasy pills.

Mr Missouri said Jay had only delivered cocaine on one occasion, but conceded his client advertised selling it on five occasions and other drugs on 11 occasions.

He said: “He was doing it to feel cool.

“He was naive and vulnerable to exploitation. He lacked maturity.”

Mr Missouri said Jay, who had had not previously been in trouble with the police, now worked for tech firm Garmin, but had previously completed a long apprenticeship in car body repair work.

In sentencing Jay, Judge Christopher Parker QC said he was willing to suspend the 22-year-old’s sentence.

He said: “The position, in reality, is that you would go to prison immediately for 28 months.

"But there is still that opportunity for you to recover from your stupidity and go on to make something of your life.

“You have avoided prison by a hair’s breadth.

“Understand that if you commit any offence at all, even a single spliff, you will come back to this court, in front of me, and you shall be sent to prison.”

He added: “Do not let yourself down.”

Jay, of Beechdale Close, Calmore, who pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying class A drugs and two counts of supplying class B drugs, was given a 18 month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and 25 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.