A WARRANT has been issued for the arrest of a defendant who was given the chance to avoid a prison sentence by remaining offence free in recent months.

Judge Christopher Prince deferred sentence on Daniel Robinson for three months, in January, giving him a pledge that if he remained out of trouble he would not be sent to custody.

But on the date the deferred sentence was to be passed, Robinson failed to appear at Durham Crown Court.

Lewis Kerr, for 35-year-old Robinson, could give no explanation for his client’s failure to attend, saying as far as he was aware the defendant knew of the hearing date.

Jonathan Harley, prosecuting, said the offences facing Robinson were two counts of theft and one of handling stolen goods, which he previously admitted.

The thefts were of garden ornaments said to be of sentimental value to the owner, in Horden, and of recently delivered milk taken from outside a small shop, in Murton, both committed in early May last year.

Most of the stolen items were recovered by police from Robinson’s home in Edward Terrace, New Brancepeth, along with other property taken from a garden shed in Horden.

Those offences put him in breach of a nine-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, in October 2017.

That was imposed for the burglary of the homes of his mother and sister in Murton, in February that year.

When Robinson appeared at court in January, Mr Kerr said his client, a long-term heroin addict, had gone drug-free for several months and was keeping out of trouble.

Mr Kerr said Robinson was the victim of a serious assault, last September, for which his assailant was jailed for ten years, for attempted murder, in December.

When Judge Prince deferred sentence in January he told Robinson he was, “on a knife edge”, and it was down to him which way events would fall, adding: “The ball is very much in your court”, indicating he would probably pass an unpaid work order if he remained out of trouble.