A WARRANT has been issued for the arrest of a rapist who failed to attend court to be sentenced.

Mohammed Shafiq, 41, of Higher Antley Street, Accrington, was convicted of three rapes, two counts of threat to kill, sexual assault on a girl and assault occasioning actual bodily harm following a trial at Burnley Crown Court earlier this year.

He was bailed to be sentenced yesterday but failed to appear before Judge Sara Dodd at Preston Crown Court.

Defending, Michael Scholes said he had been told by his instructing solicitors that Shafiq had woken up feeling ill and had booked a doctor's appointment for 3pm – the earliest available.

Mr Scholes said: “Mr Shafiq has a variety of ailments and has difficulties.”

Prosecuting, Paul Cummings said: “It’s not unexpected the defendant isn’t here. That seems to be his default position.”

Issuing a bench warrant, Judge Dodd said: “I think I been incredibly patient but the time has come where I have to issue a warrant without bail.”