A MAN has been handed a suspended prison sentence after he became one of the few people in the UK to be convicted this year of dealing anabolic steroids.

Andrew Degiorgio, 27, was found with 638 steroid tablets when a squad of police officers raided a premises in St Helens in March this year.

Appearing in court, Degiorgio pleaded guilty to a series of charges relating to the supply of a controlled class C drug.

Anabolic steroids are typically used by bodybuilders to improve strength and boost physique, but they are also known to have dangerous side effects.

It is legal to possess them for personal use but a criminal offence to supply them. Nevertheless, prosecutions for dealing the substances are rare.

Degiorgio, of Hinckley Road, Islands Brow, is the only person to be convicted of distributing steroids in Merseyside during 2009/2010, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed this week.

There have only been several prosecutions in the UK during that period, in Derbyshire, South Wales and the Midlands.

Degiorgio, who appeared before St Helens Magistrates’ Court, admitted three counts of possession with intent to supply anabolic steroids.

He also pleaded guilty to three charges of supplying steroids.

Magistrates sentenced him to an eight week prison sentence that is suspended for 12 months.

He must carry out 200 hours unpaid work over the next year.

Previously, the Star has reported how growing numbers of young men across St Helens are risking their health by regularly injecting themselves with anabolic steroids.

Public health experts say even teenagers are involved in the rapidly-growing trend to use steroids as a tool to build muscles, body size and strength.

Numbers using the drug have quadrupled in the last couple of years, with data suggesting that hundreds of men were taking the drug over 12 months across St Helens.