A CASH-strapped scaffolder became a cross-border crack cocaine courier after being forced out of work by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ryan Patrick Grimes, 40, was stopped by police in a speeding Audi A4 as he travelled northbound on the M6 near Carlisle, Cumbria, with a criminal cargo on December 3.

Grimes, of Stenhouse Street, Cowdenbeath, initially claimed he had been to Salisbury for a couple of days.

When asked to produce his driving licence he was seen to have hundreds of pounds in his possession.

“Officers were suspicious of his explanation and the defendant appeared to them to be nervous,” prosecutor Jamie Baxter told Carlisle Crown Court.

“As a result, the police officers decided to search the vehicle.”

But before they did so, when Grimes was asked whether he had anything he shouldn’t, replied: “I don’t know what it is. It’s in the glove box.”

A large rock covered in brown tape was recovered. This proved to be around a quarter of a kilo of crack cocaine potentially worth a total of about £22,000 if sold on the street.

Grimes later admitted possession of the class A drug with intent to supply. He spoke of travelling to Liverpool at the request of a third party he wouldn’t name, and being given a package he was told to transport to Scotland in return for payment of £200.

“He confirmed he was a scaffolder by trade,” Mr Baxter said of the defendant’s admissions. “He had been out of work because of the pandemic. He was surviving on Universal Credit.”

Mark Shepherd, defending, said of the inevitable looming prison term: “It is going to have a significant impact upon him because he has four children with his partner, the eldest of whom is 14 years of age. He was financially struggling and living alone at the time of this offence.”

Grimes was handed a jail term of two years and four months by Recorder Neville Biddle, who gave him a full discount for his prompt admissions, saying: “You appeared in the magistrates’ court the following day and immediately pleaded guilty, which is significantly to your credit.”

The judge also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drug seized, confiscation of the money recovered, and ruled that Grimes should also be deprived of the vehicle in which he made the criminal trip.