A major drug dealer has been jailed for 11 years after detectives discovered he had given himself his pet dog's name as an alias on an encrypted phone network used by criminals.

The dog's name, Capone, matched Nicholas Houtman’s Encrochat device handle, with Bedfordshire Police detectives able to prove Houtman was a large-scale buyer and supplier of class A drugs.

Officers uncovered Houtman, 30, sending messages about getting multiple kilos of "banging" cocaine delivered from across the country at prices ranging from £35,000 to £40,000 per kilo.

He often made up to £500 to £1,000 profit by brokering deals, Bedfordshire Police said.

Analysts found the most damning evidence against Houtman was the fact his Encro device password was stored in notes as "HOUTMANHOUTMAN".

They were also able to trace the movements of the Encro device, which matched those of Houtman’s conventional phone.

Bedfordshire Police’s specialist Operation Costello was able to prove that Houtman was involved in a criminal conspiracy with Jack Penman, 29, who was jailed earlier this year for his part in the trading of cocaine.

Encrypted messages between Penman and Houtman revealed they were involved in the drug supply business, trading in large wholesale quantities of cocaine.

Houtman has now been jailed for 11 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

In September, Penman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was jailed for eight years and three months. He was also handed a two-year Serious Crime Prevention Order to run at the end of his sentence.

Investigation officer Gary Hales, from Bedfordshire Police’s Operation Costello, said: "Houtman’s carelessness in going by the same alias on Encrochat as the name of his pet dog was just one part of the overwhelming evidence we were able to put together in this investigation.

"Houtman supplied around 10 to 12 kilos of cocaine over a 52-day period. This is a vast amount of drugs and criminal cash to be involved in and, by distributing so much cocaine, he brought misery and harm to the community.

"He profited off addiction and thought he was immune from prosecution through the encrypted Encrochat platform. We proved him wrong.

"No-one is immune. We will relentlessly pursue anyone embroiled in organised criminal activity."