A teenager was recruited as a drugs courier while still a schoolboy.

Akhtar Hussain, who is now 18, was wearing his school uniform when officers stopped him in a taxi as he was taking £6,000 worth of heroin from Bradford to Keighley.

The Greenhead High School pupil had just passed his 16th birthday when police intercepted the drugs run in April 2004.

This week Hussain, who pleaded guilty in August to being part of a conspiracy to supply the Class A drug, was sentenced to a 12-month community rehabilitation order with a condition that he does 100 hours' community service.

Yesterday, Tricia McCarthy, head teacher at Greenhead, said Hussain had left the school in June 2004.

And she stressed that the school had a very strong anti-drugs policy.

She said: "The school cannot condone this sort of thing and in the past we have permanently excluded students for having drugs.

"We take a very hard line on this and treat it extremely seriously."

Det Insp Neil Benstead, head of the Bradford District Drugs Team, said it was "very unusual but not unheard of" for people as young as 15 to become involved in drugs operations.

"Some youngsters are more vulnerable than others and prone to getting caught up in crime for many sets of reasons," he said.

Hussain's sentencing at Bradford Crown Court on Tuesday can be revealed after Judge Peter Benson lifted a reporting ban on the case.

Hussain - who now works as a waiter and lives with his girlfriend and baby in Coronation Way, Braithwaite - had told the court he became involved in the drugs operation after seeking help from older people because he was being bullied at school.

Judge Benson said he accepted the prosecution's account of the defendant's limited role in the conspiracy.

"It seemed to me when I came into court today that the only thing that could happen to you was a sentence of custody," he said.

"But the prosecution have fairly put the case against you on a limited basis and conceded the fact that you were a young man who was 15 when these matters started.

"You were used by older people to assist them in carrying heroin between Bradford and Keighley. On the occasion that you were arrested with the bag of heroin in the taxi you were still wearing your school uniform.

"You got involved because you were subjected to bullying at school and when you sought help they saw an opportunity to exploit you and your age." Prosecutor Adrian Dent said Hussain's young age meant he would have fallen under less suspicion than other people as he transported drugs.

The police operation began in late 2003 and by April 2004 it had uncovered a drugs supply chain encompassing Oldham, Leeds, Bradford and Keighley.

Last month father-of-three Javeed Akhtar, 54, of Oakwood Lane, Leeds, and 49-year-old taxi driver Pavinder Panesar, of Montagu Avenue, Leeds, were jailed for their part in the conspiracy but their sentences could not be reported at the time.

Akhtar, who was said to have brought drugs from Leeds to Bradford on four occasions, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail, while Panesar, who acted as his driver, received a three-and-a-half year prison term.

When police searched Panesar's garage they found half-a-kilo of heroin worth £15,000 which he said Akhtar had asked him to store.

A third man, Mohammed Rehman, 27, of Wren Street, Lawkholme, Keighley, was jailed for five years on Tuesday after he admitted being part of the conspiracy.

He accepted organising the transportation of heroin from Bradford to Keighley, but claimed that he had been put under pressure by others involved in distributing the drugs.

Rehman was involved in the drugs run when Hussain was arrested in the taxi and on other occasions as well.

Judge Benson accepted that Rehman was not one of the sophisticated masterminds controlling the operation but he said he had still played an important role.

Two other men have still to be sentenced for their parts in the conspiracy.