A JUDGE has praised the Observer for helping convict a drug dealer who plagued a crime-hit estate.
And public-spirited neighbour Adam Edwards, who made a damning DVD of Karl Bates handing out cannabis, was also commended at Burnley Crown Court.
Bates, 35, of Norfolk Grove, Church, pleaded guilty to supplying drugs and possessing a stun gun and two gas canisters. He was jailed for two years eight months.
The incriminating DVD, filmed via a wireless CCTV camera, shows 24 people visiting Bates' home over a four-hour period and they can be seen exchanging money and drugs.
Mr Edwards, 34, worried about the estate being dragged down, handed it to Observer reporter Laura Sharpe, already carrying out an investigation into anti-social behaviour, who passed it on to police.
Within hours they raided Bates' home with the help of a sniffer dog and uncovered 38.5g of amphetamine at 11 per cent purity, 13.5g of cannabis resin, 56g of cannabis bush and about £10,000 cash hidden at locations around the house.
Small sealed bags, weighing scales, a cannabis grinding machine and a list of names with amounts next to them were found in the kitchen.
Judge Beverley Lunt said: "People like you bring addicts into respectable residential neighbourhoods where people living with children are entitled to feel safe.
"A stream of drug addicts were coming to your house and your own children were there at weekends.
"These offences are so serious that they must end in a custodial sentence to punish you and deter others. That's a positive benefit for society."
After sentencing Bates on six counts, Judge Lunt added: "Mr Edwards should be commended in the strongest possible terms along with the actions of the Accrington Observer which handed over the footage.
"With people like that in society we all have hope for the future."
Bates, who admitted all the charges, had 12 convictions for offences in the 1990s including criminal damage, reckless driving and armed theft from a dwelling. He had been cautioned for possessing cannabis resin in 1997.
Mr Reginald Mills, defending, said: "What he was doing was wrong and harmful not just to him but to the community in general.
"This is perhaps the best thing that has happened to him, with his drug use coming to a head and being arrested, and he wants to put it all behind him."
Judge Lunt said she had read a letter from Bates and his ex-partner. Despite expressing remorse, Bates had slipped into illegal drugs which destroy lives and if it wasn't for the vigilance of his neighbour he would still be doing it.
Mr Edwards said after the hearing: "This is a triumph and I appreciate the Observer's help as I'm not sure the police would have acted so quickly if I had handed the DVD directly to them.
"I am pleased with the sentence. Although Karl wasn't a bad person, some of the customers he attracted and who queued outside my house were.
"I'm happy because now my children can play outside again and the estate is much quieter and is a better place to live.
"My family and I have faced stress over the past few months and I have continually been called a 'grass' but I would do it all again if I had to and I would urge anyone to take a stand against problems in their neighbourhood."
Detective Inspector Joanne Lightbown, of Accrington Police, said: "We are pleased Bates has got a significant sentence for dealing in class B and C drugs and would like to commend Adam Edwards for coming forward with the information.
"Information had been filtering through to us about Bates and we had raided his house twice before but it is all about timing and after seeing the evidence on the DVD we acted quickly.
"Criminals might think we are not monitoring them and Bates had become a bit blase but thanks to the DVD we had enough intelligence to raid his home."
Inspector Terry Woods, head of Accrington Police, added: "This is a really positive result and I would like to praise the actions of Adam and the Observer. It shows that we do listen to residents and we do take action. I would urge anyone facing problems to contact either Accrington Police Station or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
- POLICE who raided Bates' home found drugs in a jar next to the kettle, above door frames, in model cars, wrapped up in newspaper inside an old organ, in a teddy bear ornament, in the fridge freezer and in coat hangers.
They found bundles of notes in DVD cases and in door kickboards.
Also in the house were 70 jars of coffee, piles of batteries, champagne and whisky and 12 mobile phones.
A proceeds-of-crime hearing to discuss money belonging to Bates amounting to £18,000 has been set for 22 February. If it is found to have been obtained illegally or through the sale of drugs it can be confiscated.