A drug dealer was actually out and about playing Pokemon Go most of the time, rather than dealing narcotics, a court heard.

Raymond Phipps, 41, has since been caged for five years for his part in the “highly sophisticated” drug network in the south of England.

However, undercover officers placed to monitor the movements of Phipps discovered that much of his activity outside of the house was actually based on the interactive video game.

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The game sees players use their phones to find Pokemon around places in the real world in a bid to collect them.

He was followed by officers for about a year from December 2019 as part of his involvement in a drug gang supplying class-A narcotics in the Hampshire towns of Basingstoke and Andover.

His observation came as part of Operation Tattoo which aimed to find and identify people involved in the provision of drugs to in the two Hampshire towns.

Upon being busted, Phipps was found with a carrier bag containing £13,350 in cash – he said it was a wedding present.

He was arrested at his home on Colver Close, Basingstoke, in November 2020 and was later found guilty of supplying cocaine and a conspiracy to supply the class-A drug.

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During the arrest, officers searched his home and found a red iPhone which he refused to unlock, the court heard.

Despite this, officers managed to get inside the device and download his contact list.

Prosecutor Robin Leach said that what was found was indicative of involvement in drug dealing.

The middleman’s bust came amid a number of arrests and convictions with seven convicted and fiving having previously been caged.

The initial five were jailed for more than 20 years in December 2022.

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Phipps's barrister, Ioana Nedelcu, told Winchester Crown Court in his defence how most of his movements related not to drug dealing but to playing Pokemon Go.

However, he was part of a “highly sophisticated and well-organised operation,” Judge Nicholas Haggan said.

He told Phipps: “The offences you have committed are so serious neither a fine alone nor a community penalty can be justified.

“However, having considered your personal mitigations with regard to your health, and the length of time you were waiting for the trial, I order you to a term of five years in prison.”

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