A ROWLEY Regis man who stashed more than £24,000 in a toilet cistern claimed the money was to pay for a building project.

Police raided a house in Halesowen where drug deals were being prepared and found the stash belonging to Asif Majid.

Majid agreed the money came from criminal activity when he was questioned by officers but he maintained he played no part in what was described as a "sophisticated enterprise to supply a large quantity of Class A drugs."

Majid wanted to use the £24,260 in a building project having bought a property he was looking to convert but it was clear he knew it was the result of dishonesty.

As he jailed Majid for 10 months, Judge Peter Barrie told the 35-year-old it was accepted the money came from "criminal behaviour" adding, "It was kept from the eyes of police and the revenue."

Shamsul Islam was also arrested when police raided the house in Springfield Road, he was helping to break up cocaine into wraps because he was under pressure to clear a debt to his own drug dealer.

Majid, of Mincing Lane, Rowley Regis, admitted money laundering and the judge ruled the crime was so serious only an immediate spell behind bars was appropriate.

Islam, 32, of West Street, Bearwood, pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to supply and was given a 16 month jail term suspended for two years.

Peter Arnold, prosecuting, said both men were found at the Halesowen house where drug deals were being prepared and Islam was seen to go into the garden and throw a box onto a neighbours property.

The box was found to contain 214 wraps of cocaine that were valued at £8,640, Mr Arnold told Wolverhampton Crown Court.

When police searched the property they found the money hidden in the cistern while a further small amount of cash that was recovered took the full amount to nearly £25,000.

Andrew Baker, for Islam, said his client fell into debt after becoming addicted to cocaine himself and he began preparing deals to resolve his financial problems.

Mr Baker said: "His role was weighing out the cocaine."

Balbir Singh, for Majid, said it had always been agreed the money was his and it was to be put towards a "legitimate business enterprise."

The judge said he accepted Islam had played a limited role in the drug dealing operation and for that reason he was just able to avoid sending him straight into custody.

He ruled Majid had clearly committed his crime with his eyes open and for that reason he had to serve a custodial sentence.