A Brentwood man has admitted possessing laughing gas with intent to supply in what is said to be one of the first such convictions for that substance.

Thomas Salton, 30, of William Hunter Way, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply class B and class C controlled drugs at Basildon Crown Court on Monday (January 8).

He denied possession with intent to supply a controlled drug at class A, instead admitting to a simple possession charge.

It comes after an Essex Police stop-and-search in Southernhay, Basildon, found £38,000, ketamine and nitrous oxide canisters in his vehicle on December 1 last year.

Warrants were then executed at Brentwood and Vange addresses and more class A and B drugs were found.

Essex Police said Salton's conviction for supplying nitrous oxide was one of the first since the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 classified it as a class C drug in November.

Under the legislation, users could face up to two years in prison for possession while those convicted of supply could face up to 14 years behind bars.

Supt Philip Stinger said: “The use of nitrous oxide in public spaces is a nuisance to communities and has been shown to pose a considerable health risk.

"Where we are dealing with a larger number of canisters, it is right we take robust and swift action and put this new legislation to use," he added.

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Supt Stinger said the new law gives officers "more options when dealing with the anti-social behaviour so often associated with the use and supply of nitrous oxide as a recreational substance".

“This means a proportionate approach to tackling those found in possession of nitrous oxide canisters, including explaining the change in law and encouraging people not to use or buy the substance," he added.

Salton also admitted to a charge of possessing criminal property.