THE boss of a defunct furniture shop facing fraud allegations could be tried in his absence after failing to make contact with his solicitors.

A warrant not backed with bail was issued for the arrest of Christopher Baines yesterday after he failed to attend Swindon Crown Court.

The 46-year-old is due to stand trial on 52 counts of fraud relating to transactions with customers at his former Mr Woodz shop, in the Plaza at the Brunel Centre.

It is alleged that he cheated his victims out of about £44,000 while trading out of the town centre location.

Baines was hospitalised with a broken leg on a holiday to Mexico earlier this year. Tony Bignell, defending, told the pre-hearing: “I have had no comeback from Mr Baines since we last heard from him. “He was due back in this country on the 23rd of August.”

Judge Douglas Field said: “I will say this to the prosecution, if they wish to apply to try the defendant in his absence they will file and serve a skeleton argument in support of the application.”

But Judge Field also instructed Mr Bignell to notify the court if his client made contact so an earlier hearing could be arranged.

Baines had told his solicitors that he needed two weeks of physiotherapy and had not been able to fly because of a broken femur which resulted in a blood clot.

Since his trip to Mexico the region has been hit by Hurricane Isaac.

Judge Field said: “There have been copies of faxes from Mexico and an email from his solicitors saying he will arrive on a certain date. “It has been listed and he’s still not here.

“Hurricane Isaac may have interrupted his progress, but I’m still very unhappy about the way he has dealt with the court and I will grant a warrant which will not be backed for bail.”