A drug dealer jailed for 14 years in his absence last summer remains on the run but has now officially been “relieved” of £8,905, “plus accrued interest”, seized from him upon his arrest.

But the figure falls well short of the total of £416,000 that Peter Hudson is estimated to have benefited from his criminal activities.

Crime proceeds settlement figures have been agreed at Durham Crown Court in the case of the convicted cocaine seller, who the hearing was told is still at large.

The now 28-year-old defendant, of Birch Road, West Cornforth, received the 14-year sentence after being convicted of supplying cocaine hydrochloride following a trial staged at the court in his absence, in August 2023.

(Image: Durham Constabulary)

He was said to have been involved in the supply of the class A drug during the peak of the Covid pandemic, from April to June 2020.

The cash was seized by police from his home and the glove box of his car upon his arrest later in 2020.

Having denied the charge at a plea hearing at the court in February last year Hudson was bailed pending the trial fixed for August.

When he failed to appear at pre-trial hearings in June last year a bench warrant was issued for his arrest, but it had not been executed by the start date for the trial, on August 7, so Judge Jo Kidd agreed to stage the hearing without the defendant being present.

Crime proceeds inquiries were instigated upon his conviction, and sentencing, following the four-day hearing.

Previous interim crime proceeds hearings have been adjourned, but when the latest case listing was called on today (Monday July 8), Judge Kidd asked prosecution counsel, Rebecca Brown, if it could now be concluded with a deprivation order.

Miss Brown said: “We are asking that the matter proceeds in his absence, given that reasonable efforts have been made to locate him and he’s not been found.”

She said no legitimate “third-party” claim had been made for the seized money.

Asked if that was the case, Dr Arun Kasi, representing the defendant, said he had nothing to say on the matter.

(Image: The Northern Echo)

Judge Kidd, therefore, ordered that Hudson should pay £8,905, plus any accrued interest, and that the money was immediately available as it is already in the hands of the police.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

Don't miss out on the latest news and stories. Subscribe to the Northern Echo, by clicking here

“I’m satisfied appropriate procedures have been followed including speaking to a third party as potentially being the owner of the cash seized from the defendant at the time of his arrest.”

Judge Kidd also declared that the benefit figure was £416,000, with the available amount of that being the £8,905, plus interest, already in police hands.

She also made a deprivation order on a cash counter seized from the defendant, following his arrest, but not on two hydraulic presses also recovered by police, as they are thought to have had legitimate use in connection with vehicles, and not for any illegitimate purposes.