Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Heathrow raid accused fled his trial to 'get clothes'

Peter Blake
Mr Blake went on the run from the court on 18 February

A man accused of a £1.75m armed robbery has said he went on-the-run from his trial as he had to get "some clothes".

Peter Blake, 57, of Notting Hill, has admitted breaching his bail conditions when he failed to return to the Royal Court of Justice on 18 February.

When asked about his disappearance, he said: "I needed some clothes."

Mr Blake and three other men deny a series of charges, including robbery and firearm possession at a warehouse at Heathrow Airport in February 2004.

I know I am going to Belmarsh, I am going to get no phone calls, no visits. I needed some clothes
Peter Blake

Mr Blake, from west London, denies allegations of "jury tampering" which resulted in the criminal case being heard without a jury.

Giving evidence he told Simon Russell Flint QC, prosecuting, that his absence was not planned and he was living in a hotel near Ascot while on the run. He said he was driven there by a friend.

He handed himself in at the court on Tuesday.

He said: "I know I am going to Belmarsh, I am going to get no phone calls, no visits. I needed some clothes.

"Once I got all that arranged, I came back."

Mr Blake has admitted previous robberies but said he was not involved in the raid at Menzies World Cargo warehouse.

"This is way out of my league, this Menzies robbery," adding that he was returning from a visit to his mother at the time.

Mr Justice Treacy is trying Mr Blake, John Twomey and Glen Cameron, both from New Milton, Hampshire, and Barry Hibberd, of Shepherd's Bush, west London.

It is the first crown court criminal trial without a jury in England and Wales for more than 350 years.

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