A convicted drug dealer has told how avoiding jail and being sentenced to carry out unpaid work has helped him turn his life around.
Darren Wild was told to expect a prison sentence after he was convicted of being concerned in the supply of Class A Drugs.
But the 42-year-old from Sunderland was given a second chance by a judge because he only acted as a driver.
He was given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to complete 250 hours of community service, now known as Community Payback.
Sky Tyne and Wear joined the father of four for the day as he cleared a pathway in South Hylton, Sunderland.
He said: "This really has changed my life. It has motivated me to turn my life around and leave my old life behind."
Community Payback celebrates its 40th birthday in September 2012. Run by Northumbria Probation Trust, its aim is to deprive offenders of their leisure time rather than their liberty, for the benefit of the community.
Work includes gardening, painting, fence building, graffiti removal, litter picking and clearing overgrown areas to make them safer.
It also enables offenders to pay back local communities and to learn new work-based skills which can help cut crime by contributing to their rehabilitation.
The unpaid work forms part of the offender's sentence and can be anything from 40 to 300 hours for each individual.
Martyn Strike, head of Community Payback at Northumbria Probation Trust, said: "The work performed by offenders is as valuable today as it was 40 years ago.
"Community Payback is tough and demanding and it punishes the offender. It helps them develop a work discipline and a sense of achievement which is an important part of the rehabilitation process."
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