A MAN who had his case adjourned five times because of illness was due to be collected from hospital and jailed after he was sentenced in his absence on Tuesday.

Darren James Griffiths, 47, first appeared at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court on May 16 charged with the theft of £340 from his friend, Jet Black.

Griffiths, of St Mary’s Close, Newtown, denied the charge and a trial date was set for June 26. But the case was adjourned when his solicitors, Robert Hanratty and Co, told the court he was in hospital.

The same thing happened the next four times Griffiths was due to appear.

Then, on August 22, Mr Hanratty told the court Griffiths had changed his plea and admitted the offence.

This week, the magistrates decided to proceed with sentencing in Griffiths’ absence, despite defence solicitor Paul Inns asking for another adjournment.

Helen Tench, prosecuting, told the court that Griffiths stole the money between April 6 and April 9 using Mr Black’s bank card, which he had been given permission to use to withdraw £10.

But Griffiths took advantage and made several withdrawals totalling £350.

When Mr Black received his bank statement and noticed the money missing, he informed the police who viewed the CCTV footage from the cash machines and saw Griffiths making the withdrawals.

Griffiths was interviewed and said he had permission to use the card and had spent the money “on booze”.

Mr Inns told the court that Griffiths and Mr Black were friends who “had both been drinking heavily on this particular day”.

About the defendant, he added: “It hasn’t been easy for him over the last couple of years.

“He has both mental and physical health issues.”

The court heard that the theft caused Mr Black to worry as he needed the money, but it had since been repaid to him by the bank.

The offence meant Griffiths was in breech of a suspended sentence for another theft from a person and a conditional discharge for theft from a shop.

The magistrates activated Griffiths’ 28-day suspended sentence and added a further 28 days to run consecutively for the new offence. He must pay costs of £85 and a £115 surcharge.

A warrant without bail was issued and Griffiths was due to be picked up from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.