A BRIDGWATER man caught with three bags of cocaine in his car has been spared jail after a court heard how he had turned his life around.

Christopher Rowley, 23, from Sandpiper Road, Bridgwater, appeared at Taunton Crown Court on Friday (January 10) on charges of drug possession and driving while under the influence of illegal drugs.

The incident in question happened on the evening of April 12 last year, when Rowley was spotted snorting a white substance outside of the cinema in Bridgwater.

Christine Hart, speaking for the prosecution, said: "He then got in his car and drove off, and when he was stopped by police officers on North Street, his eyes were glazed, had dilated pupils and appeared nervous."

When police searched the car they found three bags of white powder and £390 in cash.

When interviewed by police Rowley admitted he had been drawn into low-level drug dealing, having amassed debts after becoming addicted to cocaine.

Defending, Patrick Mason said Rowley's drug use has started after losing his apprenticeship as an electrician.

"Sadly this is the sort of case the courts are dealing with more and more," Mr Mason said.

"People running aggressive drug networks have been spreading their tentacles into Bridgwater and Taunton.

"Drug users are allowed to get into debt deliberately and told they can repay by dealing.

"The night he was arrested brought him crashing back to reality with the realisation of the situation he had put himself and his family in," Mr Mason said.

"In the eight months since his arrest things are looking up.

"He has stop using drugs and has attained a place to finish his apprenticeship."

Rowley, who has two young children from a previous relationship, was asked by Judge David Ticehurst: "Have you discussed with the mother of your children what she would tell them if you went to prison?

"Would she tell them Daddy has gone on holiday or is working away, or that Daddy is a drug dealer who is in jail?"

Judge Ticehurst said he accepted that Rowley had shown he was capable of rehabilitation.

He said: "What you did was stupid and unwise, but I take the fact you have turned your life around into consideration."

Rowley was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years and was ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £535 costs and £140 statutory surcharge.