A warrant has been issued by a court for an asylum seeker from the Bibby Stockholm barge who has been convicted in his absence of shoplifting and assault in Weymouth town centre.

Ahmed Haffa, aged 24, a resident of the barge at Portland Port, was due to appear before Poole Magistrates' Court today to stand trial.

Haffa did not attend and a warrant was issued for his arrest following his conviction for assault by beating, common assault and theft from a shop.

The court heard Haffa stole a jacket valued at £59.99 from TK Maxx on New Bond Street and then assaulted a BID Ranger and an off-duty security guard who had chased him around the town centre.

The charges refer to an incident on Wednesday, December 13, 2023.

One of the assault victims, a BID ranger, said he saw two men walking out of TK Maxx when an alarm was sounded from the barcode scanners on the doorway.

The court heard he had met up with his friend, a security guard, who was off duty.

He said: "I was walking past TK Maxx. The security alarms on the door started going off, which means a potential shoplifter.

"I saw two gents leaving the store with jackets, I said 'do you mind staying there' and at that point, they ran.

"I stopped (Haffa), and asked if he was ok, he got up and started throwing punches at me which did land.

"He began swearing at me in English, he came towards me and screamed at me.

"I grabbed him and restrained him at which point he bit my finger and drew blood.

"I then let go and he ran again."

The court heard Haffa was chased by the off duty security guard and was caught.

Whilst being restrained, the man said he was "punched in the rib" by Haffa whilst he was on the floor.

Police officers were called and Haffa was arrested.

The second man who was seen leaving TK Maxx was not found, the court heard.

The court heard from a police interview with Haffa.

Haffa told officers he was "in TK Maxx when a man suggested taking a jacket".

Haffa said he took the jacket "because it was winter and he was cold and poor".

He couldn't afford the coat and intended to take it without paying. When confronted he ran in fear and threw punches in self-defence.

Judge Austin said: "The defendant failed to attend today, he was notified of the date and time and had sufficient time to get here.

"The trial has continued in his absence as there is no good reason for his non-attendance.

"I am sure he did steal the jacket in question and I am satisfied that both men were assaulted."

Haffa was found guilty on all three charges and a warrant for arrest has been issued without bail until he can appear before the court to be sentenced.