Wirral drug dealers sold ecstasy to children aged 12
Two "despicable" drug dealers who supplied ecstasy to children as young as 12 have been jailed.
More than 20 young people were admitted to hospital after taking the drugs, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
Craig Banks, 40, and Dominic Evans, 21, admitted conspiracy to supply ecstasy.
Banks, of Wheatland Lane, Seacombe, was jailed for six years and nine months while Evans, of Norman Street, Birkenhead, was sentenced to four years and eight months.
Banks - described as "the senior partner" - and Evans targeted their victims using mobile phones and social media and recruited some of them to act as go-betweens to sell to their friends.
As he sentenced them, judge Norman Wright said: "People who deal in drugs bring misery, degradation and, not infrequently, death.
"It is an evil trade but in this case, the most serious aspect was the very large number of drugs supplied to children as young as 12, 13 or 14. Selling to children is despicable.
"Not only that, you were prepared to sell and make use of children as conduits to sell to other children".
The youngsters were admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital between March and May last year, the court was told.
Judge Wright said Banks had an "appalling" record dating back to 1999, having been jailed previously for drugs offences.
The court heard Evans had enjoyed a good upbringing but his life had gone in a "downward spiral" after he started taking and dealing drugs.
Det Insp Paul Lamb said: "A number of children were taken to hospital after taking these drugs and it is only by good fortune that we did not have a fatality as a result.
"We know that the children were also sharing the tablets, largely because they are afraid of taking them on their own, but they need to understand that passing a class A drug on to another child amounts to supplying."
A number of children were either cautioned or charged as a result of the investigation.
Banks also admitted supplying ecstasy and Evans pleaded guilty to three other charges involving the possession and supply of ecstasy, cannabis and cocaine.