Cash-strapped South Tyneside man fails to turn up for London court hearing

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A cash-strapped South Tyneside man allegedly caught with a kitchen knife failed to turn up at court - because he could not afford the travel fare.

James Heslop, 27, is said to have armed himself with the blade after he was chased from the Tap East bar in Westfield Shopping Centre in London, on 30 April this year.

Demanding the manager call the police, he also phoned 999 as he fled the micro brewery.

But he was still in possession of the knife when he returned to bar, it was said.

Heslop, from Cheviot Road, Horsley Hill, South Shields, was due to appear at Snaresbrook Crown Court today for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Alex Scott, defending, said Heslop did not have 'the means to attend' and asked for the matter to be put back to enable him to appear from Tyneside via video-link.

'Either that or the police spend lots of money driving him down here in the back of a van,' she added.

Judge Neil Sanders said: 'Well, Ms Scott, what I propose to do is to adjourn this for two weeks for your solicitors to set up a link.'

Heslop remains on bail ahead of a rescheduled plea and trial preparation hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on October 18.