A TAXI driver who was snared during a police probe into an organised crime group after he delivered a mixing agent for cocaine was yesterday spared a jail sentence.

William McNeil, 54, from Linwood, was arrested after detectives spotted him carrying a bag containing almost two kilos of Benzocaine into a flat in Cleghorn Street, Dundee.

Police raided the property shortly afterwards and found the white powder alongside a quantity of cocaine.

McNeil admitted being involved in supply of cocaine in the Dundee area on April 29, 2016.

His guilty plea came moments before he was scheduled to go to trial.

Yesterday, at the High Court in Glasgow, McNeil was ordered to perform 270 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Judge Lord Armstrong told him: “I accept your involvement was the delivery of the cutting agent Benzocaine to a flat in Dundee to your former co-accused.”

Lord Armstrong said the abuse of illicit drugs is “a scourge on our society” but added that, in this case, there were factors which meant a custodial sentence was not necessary.

The court heard that McNeil has worked continuously since he left school 38 years ago and his only convictions are minor road traffic offences.

Defence counsel Thomas Ross said: “The plea was tendered on the basis that he delivered the Benzocaine.

“It is not illegal to possess it, although he was aware it can be used to adulterate cocaine.

“As a taxi driver, he made the trip to Dundee.”

The court was told that McNeil’s taxi driver licence is up for renewal soon and there may have to be a hearing to see if it will be renewed.

Prosecutor Euan Cameron revealed that McNeil was caught during a probe into the activities of Scots gangsters.

Mr Cameron said: “Operation Paragon is a police investigation into the supply and distribution of controlled drugs by a serious and organised crime group operating in the central belt of Scotland.”

The court heard that, just after midnight, McNeil was seen in a common close in Cleghorn Street, carrying a rolled-up black bag.

He was in the flat for 13 minutes before coming out and driving off without the bag.

The court heard that, when officers raided the flat and found the Benzocaine, McNeil’s DNA was on one of the bags.

Mr Cameron added: “Benzocaine is known to be one of the most commonly used cutting agents for cocaine.”

The court heard that McNeil and another man, Mark McLaren, were arrested shortly afterwards.

McLaren received a 45-month sentence for being involved in the supply of cocaine.

The court on that occasion was told the cocaine found in the flat belonged to McLaren.