A WARRANT has been issued for the arrest of a man convicted and given a custodial sentence in his absence this week for sexually assaulting an underage girl.

Craig Elliott, 32, was found guilty of two counts of sexual assaulting a girl under 13 by touching on the third day of his trial at Durham Crown Court.

The trial began on Monday afternoon as the court as given no good reason for the absence of the defendant, among suggestions that he may be in Ireland.

Both offences are said to have taken place in early October last year and Elliott, formerly of West Crescent, Easington Colliery, but living while on remand at an address in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, in Scotland, denied them both at a plea hearing at the court, on November 2.

The case was adjourned for trial this week, although there have been further mentions, a ground rules hearing and the pre-recording of cross-examination of the victim, in the meantime.

Following the jury’s guilty verdicts, Judge James Adkin imposed a 40-month prison sentence on Elliott and said the defendant should be subject of registration as a sex offender, “indefinitely”.

Read more: Turkish man convicted of attempted rape and sexual assault in County Durham

The Crown will also seek the imposition of further restrictions by way of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, as well as a restraining order, for the protection of his victim, as and when the defendant is arrested and brought before the court.

In the meantime, Judge Adkin issued a bench warrant not backed by bail for the arrest of Elliott.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054