A university student who tried to sell cannabis to a plain-clothes police officer has been jailed for drug dealing offences.

Joy Singarajah admitted two counts of possession with intent to supply cannabis, being concerned in the supply of cannabis and possession of cocaine at Ipswich Crown Court last Friday.

The 23-year-old was described as a highly intelligent young man, who turned to drug dealing in order to fund his student fees.

Singarajah was serving an eight-month suspended sentence for dangerous driving when arrested on suspicion of trying to sell cannabis to a plain-clothes officer near the Colchester campus of the University of Essex on November 9 last year.

Officers found him with of 65.7g (2.3oz) of cannabis divided into small bags, 3.3g of cocaine and a phone containing messages to 93 recipients, advertising ‘Top-shelf UK strains’ like platinum cookies and gorilla glue.

Singarajah, of Forest View Road, Walthamstow, was arrested again on June 2 after police entered a property in the same area and found his ‘constantly ringing’ phone, weighing scales and a tin smelling of cannabis.

Eight days later, while on bail, he was arrested for a third time after being found with 147g (5.2oz) as a passenger in the back of a car stopped by police on the A12.

Mark Tomassi, mitigating, told the court: “You have before you a rather unassuming, inoffensive, highly intelligent young man.”

He said Singarajah dropped out of a degree course after a year at Lincoln and started studying for a higher national diploma course in Colchester before student finance became a problem.

“He had been an undergraduate at another university and had no money. He felt deeply ashamed and that he hadn’t been able to achieve what was expected.

“This is a young man with a bit of nous, who left the tracks, got into debt and became involved in criminal activity in order to not show himself up to his parents.”

Mr Tomassi suggested justice could be fairly served by sparing Singarajah immediate custody.

But Judge David Pugh said Singarajah had supplied drugs for at least seven months while on a suspended sentence and on bail.

Judge Pugh jailed him for 15 months, including three months of the suspended sentence, and ordered the confiscation of £1,010 and an electric scooter Singarajah used for dealing drugs.