A WARRANT has been issued for the arrest of a teenage defendant who left court prior to a scheduled hearing.

But a judge at Durham Crown Court agreed to extend bail should Tyler Ophield be apprehended ahead of the rescheduled hearing, on Thursday.

It follows the failure of the 19-year-old defendant to appear at a plea hearing at the court on Monday (May 16), on charges including burglary of an elderly woman’s home, robbery at a convenience store and criminal damage plus aggravated vehicle taking.

His counsel, Jane Waugh, told the court he arrived at court for the hearing earlier in the morning, but in a brief discussion with a lawyer it was made clear he was facing serious matters which may result in custody.

“He’s very lightly convicted in the past, but he’s obviously facing very serious matters now.

“He was very upset and asked to go outside to have a cigarette.

“A friend of his believed he went to have a smoke at the bottom of the garden and there’s now no sign of him.

“It’s the shock of being told he’s facing custody that has led him to this rash decision to leave court and not to come back.”

Miss Waugh said the defendant, of Glebe Avenue, Easington Colliery, has mental health and learning difficulties and was previously considered unfit to stand trial by a psychologist, although that is not the position now, in the findings of a psychiatric report.

Read more: Man charged with burglary of County Durham pensioner's home

Robin Patton, for the Crown, said the defendant has been on “stringent” bail conditions.

Judge Ray Singh put in place a warrant for the arrest of the defendant, but after representations from Miss Waugh, agreed to lift the element where it is not backed with bail.

He asked all parties to return to court for the rescheduled hearing on Thursday (May 19).

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