A MAN previously convicted of drug dealing did not get back involved in the trade because of his unpleasant experience in prison and a bail hostel, a court heard.

At Bolton Crown Court, Nicholas Knowles, aged 25, denied he was involved in operations for the “Tommy” gang, selling drugs to users in Bury, Bolton and Salford between July 2013 and May 2015.

Other alleged members of the gang – Cameron Johnson, Dylan Robinson, Nathan Dagnall and Noel Cowan – have already pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

Mr Knowles said: “I had just spent time in custody and didn’t have a very nice time in there and had to spend time in a hostel with people who had done disgusting crimes.

“It just wasn’t worth it to do it again.

“I didn’t conspire with any of them, I was not supplying Class A drugs.”

The court heard how Mr Knowles had previously spent time in prison, between 2011 and 2013, for selling drugs.

He said of his actions six years ago: “It was my age, I was young at the time and involved with the wrong people and I was pressured into doing what I did.

“I admitted that I had made a mistake.”

Mr Knowles was released in November 2013 on licence with conditions.

Mr Knowles, originally from Ashton under Lyne, was banned from entering the borough of Tameside, except down a strict route to where his family lived.

Upon leaving prison, he lived at a bail hostel in Eccles, Salford where he took part in educational courses.

“I was okay and I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was doing what probation asked me to do,” he added.

The court heard how Robinson, who Mr Knowles had met in custody, found a property at 18 Myrtle Street, Bury, for them both to rent.

Mr Knowles said he had “no other connections whatsoever” in Bury, but added that he knew Robinson was dealing drugs to make a living.

He said Robinson did not attempt to keep it a secret and told him during their time in prison that it was his main source of income.

The prosecution maintains that Mr Knowles’ defence that he was not involved in selling heroin and cocaine, but in counterfeit cash, is false.

The trial continues.