A man is facing a lengthy prison sentence over a £70,000 heroin haul stashed just yards away from an Ayrshire addiction clinic - after police found it when searching for him amid fears he’d been murdered.

Police officers received information that Raymond Kyle’s life was at risk after he went missing and went looking for him.

When they attended the flat he was living in they could hear his dog barking but the door went unanswered and there were no other signs of life.

And, believing he may have been murdered and lying dead inside the property, they forced open the door to gain entry to the flat.

Once inside they tried to find food for his dog, who had been abandoned in a room where the floor was covered with faeces and urine - and found the drugs in a kitchen cupboard.

The heroin stash - four bags containing a total of 1,054.74g of the drug - was found during a search of the flat Kyle was living in at the time of the August 23, 2016 bust.

The flat was in Moorpark Road West, Stevenston - just a couple of hundred yards away from the North Ayrshire Council Addiction Services Clinic.

The details emerged last Tuesday when Kyle, 31, appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court over the haul. He pleaded guilty to an amended charge of breaking Section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 by being concerned in the supply of heroin on the day in question.

His co-accused, girlfriend Julie Cameron, 30, was cleared over the case when her plea of not guilty to the same charge was accepted.

Procurator Fiscal Depute David McDonald explained: “Police attended the locus attempting to trace Mr Kyle.

“They were in receipt of information that Mr Kyle was a missing person and may be in danger.

“They could hear a dog barking but there was no reply to the door.

“Police were told to force entry to the locus, given the concerns for the safety of Mr Kyle.” Once inside the officers found the dog and tried to find food for the animal, stumbling across the heroin haul in the process.

Mr McDonald, prosecuting, said four bags containing the drug were found, with a total weight of just over 1kg - meaning it was worth £69,000 when sold on the streets. Defence solicitor Gordon Ritchie said it was an “extremely unusual” case and one of the most unique he had dealt with in his 30-year career. He said Kyle had fallen foul of gangsters whilst living in Glasgow by running up a drug debt through cocaine addiction. And he said the unnamed criminals were so intent on seeking revenge that police confirmed Kyle’s life was at risk. The lawyer said: “What I can say to the court is supported by the police.

“This was an illegal search - the police had no right to enter the house.

“They did so for the safety and threat to life of the accused.

“He had been living in that area [Ayrshire] for some time and he thought he had managed to escape from their clutches.”

But the gangsters tracked him down and forced him to hold the drugs for them, leading to him taking off.

Mr Ritchie explained: “He was told to hold it or him, his partner and members of his family would be harmed, if not killed.

“They clearly got the hook in to him due to the outstanding drug debt from before.

“He was basically told, ‘do this or you’re dead’.

“He told his partner their lives were in danger and they had to leave their home - they abandoned the house, abandoned the drugs and abandoned the family dog.

“Police thought he may have been lying dead or dying in the house - police had a genuine belief this man’s life was at risk.

“This is not something the accused simply made up - this was a missing persons investigation.”

Mr Ritchie also said that coercion was a possible defence but that Kyle could not rely on it as he had not told police about it when he was safe after fleeing. Sheriff David Pender deferred sentence for background reports and warned Kyle, of Paisley, he could be caged for the offence.