A DEFENDANT who attended court to be sentenced for cannabis cultivation left the building before the case was to take place.

Simon Jackson was committed for sentence to Durham Crown Court after admitting production of the class B drug when he appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, last month.

The 31-year-old, of Walker Drive, Bishop Auckland, arrived at court and had a pre-hearing consultation with his counsel, Tony Davis, but when the case was called on by the usher, Jackson failed to respond and it emerged he had left the building.

Judge Christopher Prince said, given the lack of an explanation as to his disappearance, there appeared to be no reason why he should not issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.

Mr Davis told the hearing: “The reality is, short of an explanation, he appears to have absented himself.

“There are no further observations I can make.”

A bench warrant, not backed with bail, was, therefore, issued for the defendant’s arrest.