A MAN who had been a drug addict since the age of 13 has been spared jail to give him a chance to kick his habit.

Craig Yates, 22, of Hough Lane, Wombwell, left Sheffield Crown Court last Friday punching the air after Recorder Mark McKone sentenced him to 20 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, with an order to attend a six-month drug rehabilitation course.

Yates pleaded guilty to being in possession of 333mg of ketamine and three grams of MCAT - a former legal high criminalised in 2010 - with intent to supply when searched by police on September 19, 2012. The drugs were valued at £114.

Officers had been in the area following complaints of Yates and a woman having a heated argument in the middle of the street.

There were also found to be 19 text messages on his mobile phone related to the supply of MCAT and ketamine.

After appearing at Barnsley Magistrates' Court on June 5, he was granted bail pending his committal to Sheffield Crown Court but during this time was found to be in possession of cannabis with a street value of about £10.

He was initially charged with possession with intent to supply but pleaded not guilty, later pleading guilty to possession for personal use on June 19.

Prosecutor Michael Tooley said Yates had nine previous convictions for 23 offences between 2004 and 2011 and had previously served 15 months' imprisonment in a young offenders' institute.

Defence barrister Rebecca Stevens said: "Given his history and addiction since the age of 13 to cannabis and, shortly thereafter, the drugs which he has been convicted, it comes as little surprise he finds himself before the court again, because his previous conviction did not release him from his addiction. Clearly his last custodial sentence was not able to do that."

Miss Stevens added Yates had found work after being released from the young offenders' institute in May 2011 but, shortly before the offences before the court, had lost his job and turned to dealing drugs to fund his habit.

Passing sentence, Recorder McKone said: "I'm going to do what I can to help you with your drug problem. It really is a very good course but the reality is, if you go on that course and you're still taking drugs and offending afterwards, the court will be able to say it has given you a chance and you haven't taken it."

Yates was also placed under a 12-month supervision order as well as a six-month curfew between the hours of 7pm and 5am and fined a £380 victim surcharge.