The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

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A "vulnerable" man who had his home taken over by drug dealers had his hair and feet set on fire by the criminals.

Ian Cowper had been a victim of "cuckooing" – a term used for when drug dealers take over someone’s home and use it as a base for drug trafficking – and had met the officer several times to deliver class A drugs.

He was finally caught drunk and high on drugs while out walking his dog, Teesside Crown Court was told

Cowper, a "vulnerable" 50-year-old, had had his home taken over by dealers and had been "subject to extreme violence", TeessideLive reports.

He’d had his "hair set on fire" and his feet sprayed with Lynx then set on fire in a number of alleged assaults.

The dealer previously pleaded guilty to three counts of supplying class A drugs and appeared in the dock at the Middlesbrough court on Tuesday.

Teesside Crown Court was told how Cowper had been the victim of 'cuckooing' by drug dealers
(Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, told how the force had received "intelligence" regarding drug dealing in the Darlington area in 2019.

In March, an undercover officer contacted a male named "Ghost" for supply of heroin and crack cocaine.

'Ghost' said he would send a man to the rear of a Halford's store with the drugs, Ms Lamballe said.

Cowper, who was walking his dog, arrived at the location "approached the officer" and handed over "two wraps in exchange for £30 in cash".

Then on another occasion, the undercover officer made contact again and the same location was set-up.

Cowper arrived there at around 6.40pm with a "single wrap of crack cocaine".

Cowper was subjected to 'cuckooing' the court heard
(Image: Channel 4 teeside crown court)

He was "given £20 in relation to that", the prosecutor added.

The dealer was arrested on April 11, 2019, and "denied any knowledge" of the offences stating he was "under the influence of drink and drugs".

Ms Lamballe told how Cowper has an "extensive record" and "has a drug addiction problem".

John Turner, mitigating, confirmed the defendant had "problems with alcohol and drugs" but was not "heavily convicted" in regards to drug dealing.

The defence barrister outlined Cowper's circumstances at the time of the crimes and how he’d been a victim of "cuckooing".

Cowper has lived at the address on Tom Raine Court for the last seven years which is provided by The Salvation Army.

Mr Turner said he had been "subject to extreme violence", had his "hair set on fire" and had his feet sprayed with Lynx then set alight.

Teesside Crown Court also heard how Cowper's 18-year-old dog was "kicked and locked into a room" which he "found distressing".

Mr Turner described it as an "extreme situation" and Cowper as a "vulnerable" man.

He added that he was now on a methadone programme and taking "steps to address underlying problems".

Judge Tim Stead imposed a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Cowper, of Tom Raine Court, Darlington, will also be subject to a two-year suspended sentence order and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He will also have an electronically monitored tag for 30 days from 8pm to 6am.