A ROYAL Marine hopeful was caught red-handed dealing class A drugs out of a van at the Kendal Calling music festival.

Detectives were alerted by security staff to suspicious activity around the Mercedes Sprinter in a car park at the site near Penrith on day two of the popular event on July 26 last year.

Police discovered 224 ecstasy tablets and a crystalline form of the illegal substance, along with 21g of cocaine – some of import-strength purity – and a small amount of ketamine, all potentially worth almost £6,000. They found Ryan Johnston inside the vehicle and scales on which a lump of drug was being weighed; makeshift smuggling containers; and a mobile phone bearing evidence of him dealing before the festival and replenishing his supplies for it.

Johnston, 24, led police to some of the drugs after being detained and later admitted possessing class A cocaine and ecstasy, and class B ketamine, all with intent to supply.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that Johnston, of Kirkbride, near Wigton, had been an accomplished student, athletic talent and passed his basic exam to join the Royal Marines – although his hopes now lay in tatters.

“It is astonishing that his involvement in class A drugs will effectively put an end to any ambition he has of joining the Armed Forces,” said Russell Davies, defending, “and put a blight, a stain on his young life for many years.”

Johnston’s mother was in the court’s public gallery and, added Mr Davies, was “devastated”.

Jailing Johnston for three years, Judge Nicholas Barker said: “Whether you were at the (dealing) level that Mr Davies suggests you were not, operating like an ice cream van, this was nevertheless, a portable dealing van that you had set up.”

He added: “It is, in each passing year, tragic to read of those that lose their lives at such festivals because of taking drugs, and I do not, of course, sentence you on that basis. I recognise the vulnerability of those that attend such festivals and the concerns that arise because of that. It seems to me you were there to sell significant quantities.”