A drug dealer who guarded his £7,000 cocaine stash with two illegal guns has been warned he faces a long jail sentence.

Craig Lee used a car repair business at a farm at Liverton as cover for cocaine dealing and kept his stock at his home in nearby Teign Village.

He kept a loaded pistol at his home and a shotgun at the barn so he could see off any rival dealers who tried to ’tax’ him by stealing his drugs or money, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He claimed to have the handgun for killing rats and the shotgun for shooting rabbits but both were held illegally and a Judge has ruled that both were for use in his drug business.

Lee had 72 grams of cocaine with a street value of £7,200 and £4,026.78 cash at his house or barn when they were raided simultaneously by police on August 16, 2017.

Officers also found a knuckleduster at each location, an extendable baton in his car, and a dealer’s list of customers who owed him thousands of pounds.

They found the pistol in a zip up case inside a Sainsbury bag under a desk  at his home where it was insecure and accessible to anyone, including his two children aged eight and nine.

Lee, aged 27, of Teign Village and Holbrook Farm, Liverton, near Newton Abbot, admitted possessing cocaine with intent to supply; possession of a 0.22 Smith and Wesson pistol and ammunition, and possession a shotgun without a licence and while banned from owning any firearm.

The firearms charges carry a minimum sentence of five years while the drugs offences had a sentence guideline of four and a half years.

Judge David Evans ruled that the weapons were intended for use in drug dealing during a fact finding hearing.

He rejected Lee’s basis of plea, in which he claimed they were for shooting rats or rabbits.

He told him: ‘You knew of the phenomenon of drug taxing and you knew how seriously the courts view criminal activity involving drug supply and firearms, yet you acquired a pistol.

‘To do so out of mere curiosity makes no sense. You had it to defend your valuable drugs business and to ensure payment of the substantial sums owed to you.

‘You are facing an inevitable and significant prison sentence.’