A sex offender who was convicted in his absence after he left the country for a funeral in Ireland prior to his trial has now been brought to justice.

Craig Elliott, 33, was bailed to an address in East Kilbride, Scotland, after appearing at a pre-trial hearing in the case, at Durham Crown Court, in February.

He had previously denied two counts of sexually assaulting a girl under 13 by touching, offences dating from October 4, 2021.

But on the day the trial was listed to start, on May 9, Elliott was not present at court.

Read more: Warrant for Craig Elliott after not turning up to trial in Durham

Having heard that it was thought he may be in Ireland, trial judge James Adkin said there was no good reason why the case could not proceed in the defendant’s absence.

The jury duly found him guilty on both counts on the third day of the hearing.

Judge Adkin imposed a 40-month prison sentence, while also making Elliott subject to registration as a sex offender, “indefinitely”.

He also issued a warrant for Elliott’s arrest.

Following execution of the bench warrant, the defendant appeared at the court today (Wednesday, July 27), by video link from nearby Durham Prison.

A new charge was put to him over his failure to appear for his trial, stating that without good reason he failed to attend court.

Elliott said that he did have a reasonable excuse, stating that he had explained this to his solicitor.

But, when the allegation was put to him again, he agreed to the bail breach.

Paul Newcombe, for the defendant, said: “He would urge me to say there was a death in Ireland and he was called unexpectedly away.

“He apologises. There was no attempt to offend the court.”

Judge Adkin said the evidence was, “overwhelmingly against the defendant.”

Read more: County Durham sex offender exchanged messages with mother of child

The judge said that apart from the 40-month term of imprisonment, imposed for the sexual assaults after the trial, there would have to be a short consecutive sentence to mark the breach of bail.

“He was given bail despite the strong evidence against him.”

Judge Adkin passed an extra six weeks of prison to be added to the 40-month sentence.

He also imposed a restraining order prohibiting him from approaching or contacting the victim of the sex assaults, for life.

Elliott was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, also for life.

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