A MAN accused of transporting £58,000 worth of cocaine from Lancashire to Darlington has been released on bail after jurors failed to reach a verdict.

Ayaz Ismail, who denies driving the cocaine to the North-East in exchange for almost £15,000, walked free after the four-week trial came to a close.

The 36-year-old was accused alongside dog breeder Paul Baveridge, 30, who remains at large after falsely claiming he was too unwell to appear in court last week.

A warrant is now out for his arrest.

Jurors found Baveridge guilty along with Blake Stubbs, 23, Alex Howe, 22, all from Newton Aycliffe, for conspiring to supply cocaine – but Joseph McPartland, 28, from Bishop Auckland was acquitted.

Two other men, Daniel Field, 29, of Durham and Oliver Pilkington, 25, of Accrington, admitted being part of the conspiracy at an earlier hearing.

The group will be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court in the coming weeks.

But jurors failed to decide whether Ismail knowingly travelled from his home in Preston with Pilkington to deliver the £58,000 worth of cocaine and returned with £14,930 cash.

Ismail, 36, of Brixton Road, Preston, denied conspiring to supply cocaine and possession of criminal property amounting to £14,930. He been released on bail but could be before the court once more if prosecutors Paul Rooney and Rebecca Brown request a retrial.

Judge Stephen Ashurst closed the four-week trial by pointing out that Baveridge, who was branded the “brains” behind the conspiracy, failed to attend court after saying he was seriously unwell. The 30-year-old remains on the run.