A Carlisle Crown Court judge has sentenced a 16-year-old boy who was used by London drug barons as part of a “county lines” drug running operation in the city.

The teenager, who can not be named for legal reasons, was paid £10 for every drug deal that he was able to complete, Judge Peter Davies was told. But the youngster’s defence barrister Timothy Ashmole said the boy had been forced to take part in the operation.

“He did what he was told to do,” said Mr Ashmole.

“He came to Cumbria with the county lines drugs phone, but he has led a law-abiding life since his release from custody.”

An earlier hearing was told how when he arrived in Carlisle the teenager was allowed to stay with 48-year-old Peter Kenney, the grandfather who has now been jailed for seven years for his part in the plot to supply high-value class A drugs.

The 16-year-old was arrested on May 22 after he was seen leaving Kenney’s Eldon Drive flat in Harraby.

In the teenager’s rucksack, police found £1,500 cash - money he claimed was from the sale of electronic equipment.

Addressing the teenager, Judge Davies said: “Somebody much older than you; somebody much more influential than you; persuaded you to come... to Carlisle to engage in drug dealing.”

The judge spoke of who cocaine users, who lived wretched and miserable lives, would buy drugs from the teenager. The judge said said he could draw back from immediate custody because the teenager had been used by somebody else, and had admitted his offences - conspiring to supply class A drugs and money laundering.

The judge imposed a two-year youth rehabilitation order, with intensive supervision, a 91-day activity requirement, and a six month overnight curfew.

The judge added: “Commit further offences, and I will send you to custody.

“I regard these offences as particularly serious.”

The earlier hearing was told that Kenny’s role in the drugs operation was initially rewarded with heroin. But he became more enthusiastically involved, joining a drugs “trafficking crusade”.