A County Durham cocaine dealer has been convicted and sentenced in his absence after failing to attend court for his trial.

Peter Hudson received a 14-year prison sentence, which he will begin to serve upon his arrest, following his conviction after a trial at Durham Crown Court this week.

The defendant, who turned 27 during the course of the four-day hearing, was not present for the trial, but was defended in his absence by counsel Jonathan Rose.

It was alleged that Hudson, of Birch Road, West Cornforth, was concerned in the supply of cocaine hydrochloride, between April 13 and June 13, 2020.

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He was arrested at his home and various sums of cash were said to have been found in the glove box of his car, in 2020.

Hudson denied the charge at a plea hearing which he attended at the court on February 7, this year, when he was granted bail, pending the trial.

But he was not present for a pre-trial “mention” at the court on June 2, and, when he also failed to appear at a further case management hearing, on June 16, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Although that warrant was not executed by the time of this week’s trial, the hearing went ahead in Hudson’s absence.

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On the afternoon of the fourth day of the trial, the jury took less than an hour of deliberation before delivering its guilty verdict.

Judge Jo Kidd then moved straight to sentence and imposed the 14-year term of imprisonment and said the previously-issued bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest remains at large.

A timetable was set for Proceeds of Crime Act inquiries, to see what money or assets can be confiscated from the defendant, with a view to a hearing before the court in mid-January next year.