A 36 year old Dursley man who 'went on holiday to Spain for five years' after being arrested for alleged drugs supply offences must stay in custody till December for his trial to take place, a judge ruled today.

Michael Barlow was to have been tried at Gloucester Crown Court this week on a charge of possessing class A drugs with intent to sell and possessing £90 worth of cannabis on September 19, 2014.

But because of the coronavirus restrictions which began in March the court is not running jury trials and today when the case was mentioned before Judge Ian Lawrie QC he said the earliest date for trial is now December 16th.

He granted a prosecution request for custody time limits in Mr Barlow's case to be extended so he can remain behind bars on remand till trial.

Defence solicitor Matthew Harbinson did not oppose the extension.

He said "These matters go back a long time. My client went on holiday to Spain for about five years! Consequently these are proceedings which should have been concluded a long time ago.

"The judge on the last occasion described him as 'unbailable' in the circumstances of the case. The defence is trial ready.

"It is unfortunate he has to remain in custody because this is not the most compelling of prosecution cases. He was not living at the address concerned and there is no link between the drugs and him. "

The judge said, however, that Mr Barlow had not helped himself by going abroad and had to some extent brought his current remand in custody on himself.

He extended custody time limits to 18th December to allow time for Mr Barlow's anticipated two day trial to begin on 16th Dec and be conclided.

Mr Barlow was arrested on warrant last December - more than five years after a warrant was issued for him when he failed to attend court in 2014.